What is it? “Stand Your Ground” is a law that authorizes an individual to protect and defend their own life and limb against a threat or perceived threat. In 2005, Florida passed the law and was the first state to give its residents, not engaged in any other unlawful activity, the right to meet force with force, including deadly force if necessary to prevent bodily harm or death to him/herself or another. Basically, the law legalized self-defense in proper situations. You’ve probably heard about someone who did or wanted to incorporate the “Stand Your Ground” law into their situation. At the time of writing this, a woman in Alabama “stood her ground” against her abusive and estranged husband. She shot and killed him. But the law is not applicable to Alabamians…at least not at this time.
What’s Going On
On the other day, I was sitting on my bed when all of a sudden I felt a wave of “sadness”…a spirit of “sorrow” attempting to alter my happy mood. The attempted invasion of my emotions made me think. I started wondering what was going on…why the sudden mood shift. It was an interior thing. I attacked it immediately so what I am attempting to explain took some reflection and grasping that may or may not sound familiar to you. It lasted for a few seconds but regardless of the time it lasted, I wanted to conquer it once and for all! It didn’t feel good and I’d experienced it before. This time, I decided to investigate the sudden and subtle experience…why it occurred without my provocation. I concluded I needed to fight the moments. If I didn’t, they would continue, possibly whip me to pieces, incite bitterness, or even worse, be the reason I lose the love of my life. If I was going to fight, I needed more data on the root cause of whatever was happening. Why was the enemy on my property? What was his motive? I realized that whatever was happening, it was showing up unannounced. Ultimately, I recognized I needed to “Stand My Ground” against the momentary bouts of subtle sadness.
You may be wondering what this is all about. I was wondering too! So I started an investigation. I thought about my life asking questions like, “Are these moments rearing their sad heads because of unanswered prayers? Because of my own impatience? Were they appearing because of no perceived available options of victory in a variety of situations? Were they subtly showing up because I had slacked in spending time with God! I was doing my best thinking…I wasn’t about to allow some unholy spirit to come and take up residence in my emotions or my mind. Some of you may call my investigative experience a “self-awareness” experience. Maybe it is, but because I believe the wicked one is somewhat responsible, I call it a “soul-searching” experience. The adversary is after my soul. If you understand the makeup of humanity (body, soul, and spirit), you will understand why I know he is. Reader, you don’t have the time needed for me to elaborate on the tripartite man. But here’s a short version of why I know…the soul is the seat of man’s intellect, emotions, and will. The spirit of man is every whit “God-centered.” But the flesh or outer casing (body) of man is the seat of our senses (taste, touch, smell, sight, hear). Reader, the physical body can do the right thing or easily engage in doing wrong. When wrong, the soul and spirit tug at it! Now, I have all my senses and know very well that my body belongs to God and I am responsible to Him to have no part in the unfruitful works of darkness. But if the enemy can successfully work his plan in winning the soul over to the fleshy side in an unregenerate state, then he can easily take the most seasoned saint back to a full-fledged forbidden lifestyle. It’s his aim even through sadness. Nevertheless, the brief moments, if left untackled, can become elongated moments. Give the adversary an inch, he’ll take a mile. So, yes, I needed and wanted to know what was going on in my soul! Now, my circumstances told me to acquiesce and embrace the sudden spirit of sorrow but my holy heart was not buying it. I am like everybody else; I don’t have everything I desire, or immediately get everything I pray for but my trust in God keeps me uplifted and positive! I am accustomed to reflecting on His goodness and getting so ecstatic that my physical persona changes at that instance! Baby, His goodness prevails! I have to keep reminding myself of that truth! Still, that doesn’t negate the reality of my circumstances and the fact that I prefer to be released from situations that can agitate me for whatever reason. Because there’s been a delay in those releases doesn’t mean I’ve completely been denied the promises of God! DELAYED BUT NOT DENIED! That’s my focus! The enemy wants to use delay as a tool to incite a permanent sense of despondency.
Precisely, what happened at that moment of sad motion? It all boils down to an inconspicuous inner gesture that manifested itself in the form of a short-lived and unknown sorrow. Because I’d experienced it before, it appears to be on autopilot. At the moment of occurrence in the past, it expressed itself in undiagnosed sadness or disappointment! So are you depressed, Vanessa? I’ll come back to that question when the investigation is over. Got me thinking too! But when something doesn’t go our way, we grunt, groan or verbally express it in some way. Issues involving people sometimes make us think this thought, “They make me sick.” Some of us say it out loud. You ever thought about a person and became agitated by the thought of them? Most likely you were disappointed or upset about something pertinent to them. That sudden despondency I felt had similar vibes to what I just described. The only difference is that I wasn’t thinking about anything or anyone to bring on that momentary feeling. I was agitated about something but what and was it serious? At the time of writing this, I was working on making some positive changes in my life in the midst of paralyzing hindrances. Was that the reason for a sudden feeling of defeat or despondency? Was it because I was attempting to accomplish things that were not happening as swiftly as I desired? Or was it because, in reality, I was really hoping I could alter some situations but because of temporary physical limitations, it was wishful thinking? Perhaps, all of the hindrances formed a feeling that even without thinking about any of those things, the feeling activated itself because of a formation that was predicated on lack.
Angry with God
Well, I started thinking hard then! Am I angry with God because of unanswered prayer…because of where I am in life? The intent of the adversary was to shift my thoughts from positive to negative…to alter my thoughts about God…to get me to believe that God’s not faithful. Now, earlier that morning, I did my devotional ritual….got up…read/listened to various devotionals, listened to a worship song, which was probably Travis Greene’s song (You Made a Way) or George Huff (See What God Can Do), and prayed for at least 30 or more minutes. So for a wave of sorrow to buffet me, I couldn’t understand it. I was baffled by the feeling…I pray regularly. Yet, at the time of occurring, I recognized the fleeting unrest and denoted that something just happened. I understood, too, by the nature of the rapid feeling, that if I did not deal with it, the bouts could turn into permanent feelings and thoughts that could further lead to greater despair, depression, utter hopelessness or even a contemplation of suicide because prolonged despondency negatively affects people. The moment was a dark flicker of something but what? The nerve of the enemy to attempt to defeat me with feelings against the truth. Yeah, he tried it. His ultimate intent was to discourage me by turning my focus to unanswered prayers…to unfulfilled beliefs. He wanted me to believe that my beliefs are just that, beliefs, and not reality. He wanted to turn my focus to this thought, “You’ve been praying for a long time now with no results.”
I’ve been in this way for several years now. You would think he would use his tactics on one who’s not as old as I am spiritually. No, he seeks to devour all of us, young or old–carnally or spiritually, by using our own circumstances as bait. He seeks to gain and maintain access to our minds. If I entertain a negative feeling, my mind soon becomes engrossed. The actions follow…anger, rage, or other negative emotions. King David knew about undiagnosed feelings and persona. He asked the question in Psalms 42:5 (KJV), “Why are thou cast down, O my soul? and why are thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance!” The NIV interpretation is, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” Downcast? Yes. There was something going on in King David that was causing him to be disquieted or “anxious, worrisome, even hopeless.” Sometimes, we are disquieted and don’t know why until we investigate the feelings. David’s point was, “Why do I feel like this? God IS my HOPE!”
The battle can begin in our minds. But as we age in the Spirit, the adversary utilizes other intense tactics to defeat spiritually aged saints. It’s the reason why John gave three different reasons for writing to three different groups in 1 John 2:12-14…..little children, fathers, and young men. Their levels of knowledge and experiences were different and he needed to relate to them in different ways. If you are as old as I am spiritually, the enemy knows you know a bit about God. He knows you have experienced His goodness on another plateau and it will not be easy to dismantle your belief in Him. His attempts to defeat an aged saint have to be strategic. He knows some of us will not allow him to entertain our minds because Word lives there. So he targets the feelings…many times starting with a flicker of hopelessness via a feeling of sorrow. His aim is full-fledged hopelessness. He will feed an inkling of sorrow all day long if we allow it. Everything changes when we are hopeless….our belief, our persona…our reactions to others, even our strength. Hopelessness is more of a feeling than a thought. Word thoughts help to combat and defeat those feelings but sometimes it takes much more. When the adversary invade our thoughts, we can easily shift them to God’s Word, but it’s not always easy to tackle a feeling of hopelessness with scriptural thoughts and especially when, for many years, attempts were made to tackle other situations or even the same situation with God’s Word and the results were far from what we’d desired or believed based on God’s Word. After all, God’s Word is Truth. But, it’s also true “hopelessness” doesn’t always respond positively to “Word.” Yes, His Word is true! It’s also true there are depressed Christians who hear the Word of God regularly. They believe in the Word! Solomon said this truth in Proverbs 13:12 (KJV), “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” That verse has no specific name on it. The one who has hoped for a while without results can identify with Solomon’s observation that deferred hope affects the heart.
Joy of the Lord
But there is something that will take and keep hopelessness down! We put on the whole armor of God to withstand the wiles of the wicked one but if we are not fully covered, we will be defeated in the uncovered areas. When it comes to hopelessness, the “JOY OF THE LORD” is its undefeated rival! It’s NEMESIS! It’s a powerful substance; the Bible declares it will keep us strong! Nehemiah 8:10 (KJV) latter part states, “…..for this day is holy unto our Lord, neither be ye sorry, for the JOY OF THE LORD, is your strength. Joy doesn’t always come from mere thoughts about God, but joy does come from personal and pleasant God-centered experiences that pervade our thoughts. For instance, God is Jehovah Ropheka (Healer)! The one who has never experienced God as Jehovah Ropheka may not have the same high level of excitement or joy about God as one who has experienced His healing power! A bona fide man, most likely, does not primarily experience joy because of the thought of having a female in his life. It stems from a production of good and abiding heartfelt emotions because of her…from what he’s experienced with her…her intellect, her authentic love, her wholeness, her wisdom, her genuine motives, her desire to see him excel and do him good, her sincerity, her uniqueness, her smile, her warmness, her loyalty, her purity on many levels, the way he feels in her presence, and if they are married….the consummation of it all according to God–an intimate bond based on what God ordained…marital sex! All of it together is pure ecstasy, a feeling of joy on a human level! The constant roll of good emotions wins him to her! Now, back to the God-experiences! Does that mean a saint is more susceptible to depression if they don’t get the healing they prayed for? No, it means they need to think long, deep, and hard on all the otherwonderful experiences they’ve had because of God! One of the biggest reasons for joy or at least should be is personal “SALVATION! In Ephesians 6, what part of the armor is all inclusive of JOY?…..the HELMET OF SALVATION! “Therefore with joy, shall you draw water out of the “wells of salvation” Isaiah 12:3 (KJV). Think about everything that embodies your experience of true salvation! You can draw JOY from them! What is “joy?” Joy is an emotion evoked by well-being, success, good fortune, or by the prospect of possessing what one desires (delight). If the cause of my hopelessness is due to not having my desires, then “joy” may not be my possession for a long time if ever…I don’t have everything I desire. Nobody has everything they desire. But since that’s the definition of “joy,” that may give us some insight into the reason for prolonged hopelessness among Christians. It may explain why we give up on our belief in God. We may not have everything we desire but we have God! Our issue is our reason for joy. We experience joy because of an engagement! We experience joy because of moving into a 5000 sq ft elaborate house! We experience joy because of success…because of people! While we can be happy about those things, do we stay happy when there’s a change in value in those things/people? Or do we become depressed? People and material possessions are fleeting. I know things happen and we grieve from time to time but is God disappointed when things and people have a long-term devastating effect on us? Yes! In the OT, God only let His people grieve for so long. He told some to get up and stop grieving over that person! Prolonged sadness is a slap in His face! It speaks to Him not being our satisfaction…it speaks to Him not being the powerful God He is. Things and people may lose their initial value, but not God! We need a long-term stream of joy that’s centered on God and not predicated on people and material possessions. Yes, love the right people–for the right reason, but never put things and people above God! There are some who’ve experienced long-term depression after a relationship ended because God wasn’t the “center of their joy!” People are too fickle to be the dominant joy of our lives! People are too disappointing for us to look to them for medicating hopelessness. Without tackling the sense of hopelessness with the “joy of the Lord”, belief, traces of joy and strength eventually vanish away. No mortal person or thing has the power to be the answer to hopelessness…only the “joy of the Lord!”
Why an investigation into my own inner feelings? So that I can know exactly what to pray, confront, and fight against. Recently, I read an article that stated, “people with emotional intelligence connect to their own experiences and have a genuine interest in helping others.” It stated that “our thoughts and reflections can lead to new insights and perspectives, which might lead to a compassionate stance – and actually helping those in need.” It’s really true….people will choose the charities they support based on a loved one’s experience or their own experience. Though I wanted to know for myself what help was necessary to defeat the momentary bouts of sorrow and hopelessness, I learn from the article that my inner reflections can benefit others. I investigated, too, because I needed God to speak to me about steps to take to completely overcome the brief moments. I needed to have a constant flow of other inner emotions/feelings I was experiencing. More on those feelings in a moment! Hey, I know salvation is not totally “feeling oriented” yet I feel ecstatic many times because of God! I needed God’s help, though, and ONE thing I know about God is He will answer immediately in times of dire need. Peter walked upon a body of water, took his eyes off Jesus, started sinking, and sincerely called out for HELP; Jesus saved him immediately! Many saints have testimonies where they sincerely uttered one word, HELP, and God showed up immediately! Now, I know that Romans 8:26 says, “Likewise, the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” If you go upward one verse, Romans 8:25, is all about “hope” because hopelessness is a place of utter despair and discouragement that’s not easily overcome even with prayer. Sometimes hopelessness is the reason we don’t want to pray. It becomes necessary for the Spirit to help us in that weak place in life where we can’t pray because we’re all prayed out and don’t know what else to pray. The Spirit intercedes for us, yet still, after the prayer is over, “What’s next?” We may not want to pray but prayer is still crucial for overcoming “hopelessness.” We need to pray for God’s joy to enter our DNA and stay there! When you have waited on God for so long until there’s nothing else that you can do to hold on or hold out, cry out to God for help! He will help you in that hour! The Spirit will help you muster out another prayer until it becomes easy to call on God again and again! Yes, saints find it difficult to pray when they have prayed and prayed. They find it difficult to pray when they have reached a place in life where it appears God is not real…..all the Word is untrue and there’s no other recourse but to grieve because of a belief they’re trying hard not to accept….the belief that, “it’s all untrue, unreal.” There are cases where godly saints made a decision to exit the Christian life because what they initially believed about God became questionable. But God is still our HELPER for all times!
I Will Win
Some of you, my holy brothers and sisters, know when a feeling is one of despair and whether the despair is due to your own lingering thoughts. If that’s the case, deal with the issue, if you can, that’s causing the thought. The evil one may start with your own thoughts but you better believe sooner or later he’s going to accuse God in some way. He will show you everything that God’s not doing although God claims to be God. If he can tackle the truth about God, he can tackle you down to the ground. For me, at the onset of that fleeting feeling, immediately, a holy war rose up in me and I started thinking, “Devil, you will not cause me to feel or think the opposite of what the bible says about God! You will not take me down into a valley of discouragement.” I was determined! But it was a determination different from other times. It was a determination that, “You got me before, but not this time! Nope, you are not winning today or any other day. I WILL stand on my beliefs regardless of ‘what is not’ because soon ‘what is not my reality’ will be my reality!” I told myself, “I WILL win! I will see the reality of my faith!”
The adversary is violent! We must be violent, too, if we are going to win against his trickeries. We will win if we attack his violence with the weapons of God! We CAN win because God is in and with us! I’ve heard preachers express this…some things will not move until we become violent with the wicked one…until we STAND OUR GROUND…..until we learn to STAND ON THE PROMISES OF GOD WITHOUT WAVERING! A double minded man receives nothing from the Lord. Too many times we direct our anger to God. The adversary loves that because it’s at the point of anger that we are closer to our breakthrough, but if our anger is misdirected to God, how can we prevail? We’re violent with the wrong Being, God.
Hopeless situations are situations that look and seem impossible. So how do you deal with hopelessness? This is how I deal with them…I have reference points! You have them too! If you don’t think you do, just think about those times God did something amazing for you and your thoughts were, “God did this!” There are some things that God did for me that I know was HIM! And, I can recall times when I was at a low point and God did something amazing at the selfsame moment to remind me that He is still with me…loving on me! Ohhhhhh, He’s AWESOME! Memorable moments can do the job! They really can combat moments of hopelessness….reignite your belief in God’s power and ability! If He did those things, HE can do what you are believing Him for now! In Revelation 12:11, it says in part…..”And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony….” Hopelessness has to vacate the premises when you focus on past ways and goodness of God in your own personal life. Keep your focus on God…you will begin to form an inner conglomerate substance called, “joy” that will flow repeatedly….like streams of effective living waters! It’s personal testimonies, yours and others, that can bring your hope back to an all-time high…..hope thou in GOD! Reader, don’t oust prayer…pray like the father prayed in St. Mark 9:24, Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief. Remember I said above, God will come if you holler one word, “HELP! God will help you to wait! He will strengthen you as you wait! He’s good to the ONE that waits!
I said a lot about “hopelessness.” I want you to “STAND YOUR GROUND” when the enemy comes to defeat you in your life and in your thoughts about God through bouts of disappointments and sorrow. Everybody grieves at times….have moments of sadness. We will have the times when the thought of a situation will sadden us….unanswered prayers will baffle us. Jesus had a sorrowful soul in the Garden of Gethsemane that had nothing to do with unanswered prayer! He said this, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful.” He experienced sorrow but rightfully so considering what He was getting ready to endure. We become sorrowful for the same reason. Reader, you will endure some things and might be experiencing sorrow at this moment–know that you will have to “Stand Your Ground” against the adversary and you have every tool you need to do so! St. Matthew 12:12 says in part, …..” until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force!”
Stand Your Ground When:
- Your physical body is not aligned with what God instructed you to do.
- Things/conditions have affected your happiness.
- You think about all you’ve done yet others have surpassed you and things are still mediocre in your life.
- You’ve given your tithes/offerings for years and still desiring things to come to pass in your life that has monetary value.
- You feel you should be further in life than you are.
- You’ve believed….but it still hasn’t happened.
- You feel God has left more undone in your life than done.
- You feel He will never do it.
- Painful, and humiliating thoughts about situations return to depress you.
- You don’t see any way you can make the best of life considering all that you are experiencing and enduring.
- You see what you don’t want to see physically, naturally, emotionally, and spiritually. Reader, “STAND YOUR GROUND” so that you might eventually, “SEE WHAT GOD CAN AND WILL DO FOR YOU” if you just STAND!
Fight the Good Fight of Faith
This Christian walk is a fight…..one of Paul’s statements to Timothy was this, “I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7 KJV). Paul “stood his ground” many times. Now, Christian Soldier, “Stand Your Ground.” The Lord is standing right beside you ready to intervene…to block the punch that can surely take you out if He doesn’t intervene…to release the fulfillment of His promises! You may need patience to endure the very thing that will catapult you to another significant level of blessings in God! Wait on the Lord! While in the process, He will strengthen your heart for as long as you can wait for Him to do it!
My Inner Joy
Remember, I said I would go back to my inner feelings. Well, the reason why I wanted to investigate my inner experiences, too, is because from time to time, I get these inner inconspicuous feelings. They appear to be on autopilot too. When I get them, I become so ecstatic that I feel like I can jump high in ecstasy. It feels as if something fantastic is happening at the moment… yet there isn’t anything excitingly tangible happening at the moment. But while I’ve always wondered about those inner thrilling moments, I’ve never really investigated them until now because they’re wonderful feelings though they are also fleeting and momentary! After writing this article, I begin to think about and question those inner motions that felt like a brief saturation of JOY! Could those feelings be the fulfillment of Jesus words in St. John 7:38, “He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living waters?” Or the fulfillment of this scripture, St. John 15:11, These things have I spoken unto you that my joy might remain in you and that your joy might be full!?” If it is, Lord knows I don’t want any disturbances of the remains of Jesus’ JOY! I want no disturbance of those ecstatic moments! Lord, please, let YOUR joy remain! It’s the answer to moments of despair! They are the reasons I can STAND MY GROUND! His JOY defends my soul against negative harm! So as for depression, considering the basic definition that it is a state of feeling sad, I could be depressed….but, I could be joyful! I choose JOY! I don’t know but depression may start with small bouts of sadness which prove my point of investigating our emotions. If you don’t want to investigate, get the professional help you need. Do everything in your holy power to tackle the sad bouts before they tackle you! STAND YOUR GROUND! Don’t let them cast you down. You have too many promises from God! Violently claim them! And rejoice in the Lord always! Your praise will body slam those sad spurts! You won’t have a problem rejoicing if you just THINK on His goodness! Do it for your own sake! Do it for the sake of your family! Do it for the sake of the work God has called you to! Somebody needs to hear your testimony! Reader, “STAND YOUR GROUND!”