God and the devil use the same tools.
That truth is one of the more intriguing/important/terrifying facts of life. The very moments that the Father uses to draw you to himself are the same moments the father of lies uses to draw you away.
These two moments are the “good times” and the “bad times.”
Think of the good times in your life. You bring back a report card that makes your father proud. The boy with the perfect hair texts you back. The scholarship to your number-one school comes through. The dream job extends you an offer. The scale blinks back the weight-dropping news. The wedding is Instagrammable. The baby sleeps through the night. The friends stay in touch. The family lingers over board games and laughs late into the night. Happy, healthy, reasonably wealthy. Those are the good times.
Which God loves. Good times are glimpses of our great God. “The whole earth is full of his glory,” the angels once sang (Isaiah 6:3). Every moment that makes you smile is a chance to smile at God, to trampoline your thoughts up into his presence, and to marvel at his generous love for you.
But the devil loves good times too. Good times are famous for making us forget. God once lamented, “When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me” (Hosea 13:6). When life is working out, you can forget to pray, forget to say thanks, or forget about God altogether. When life is good, you can lose your need of divine pity and your utter reliance on God’s ability to provide.
Which is why God isn’t opposed to bad times. When dyslexia train wrecks your grades. When the boy doesn’t know you even exist. When college will cost you dearly. When it takes everything not to quit the job you despise. When you stare at the stoic divorce papers on the kitchen table. When your baggy eyes tell the world how little you’ve slept. When your old friends have found new friends. When you’re pretty unhappy, mentally unhealthy, and far from wealthy. Those are the bad times.
God uses those times too. As C. S. Lewis once quipped, “Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” The reckless son in Jesus’ famous story didn’t end up dancing for joy until he was broke, barefoot, and hungry (Luke 15:17). In the same way, bad times take away our temporary joys, forcing us to search for something that endures, something that lasts, Someone who can’t be taken away.
But the devil loves the bad times too. Bad times can bend toward bitterness. “How could you?!” we scream at God. “I deserve better!” we arrogantly assume. “If you really loved me, you wouldn’t have . . . !” we accuse. In our pain, we forget that God is GOD, sufficient to satisfy us even when he is all we have left.
So, what season are you in right now? By comparison to other days, are these days good or bad? Whatever your answer, let me leave you with two tips:
- When times are good, think, “This!” “This” is my one-word way of worshiping God. This good feeling, this amazing moment, is just a glimpse of the glory of God. This won’t last forever, but God will. This can’t satisfy me for long, but God can. This is nothing compared to the gift Jesus died and rose to give me—God. “This” slays forgetfulness and resists the devil by remembering God.
- When times are bad, think, “That . . .” “That . . .” is my one-word way of waiting on God. That ugly feeling, that heartbreaking season will not last forever. It will end, and I will see my Father’s face and be satisfied. “That . . .” slays bitterness and restores hope by focusing on my for-sure future.
I have no clue where your life is at these days, but I do know that every day is a chance to seek God. Because Jesus opened the door to his presence, you always can.