"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified." Isaiah 61:3

Ouch

The other day I noticed a small splinter in my finger.  It hurt so bad, that it affected me the whole day because that’s all I could concentrate on .  To be honest it’s still there!  It’s amazing how the smallest of things can hold our attention.  The smallest of afflictions can become strongholds, and affect everything we do.

An affliction is something that causes pain or unhappiness.  Sometimes we fight it and other times we simply learn to live with it.  We ask it to move in with us.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t do well with roommates.  And the old saying, “Misery loves company,” is such a true statement.  The moment you entertain negativity, that’s exactly what you attract.  Pity party anyone?

A stronghold according to Merriam Webster, is a fortified place; A place dominated by a particular group or marked by a particular characteristic.

Satan loves to use strongholds, especially when it comes to our minds.  We must be careful to not give the devil a foothold.  (Ephesians 4:27)  Anger and un-forgiveness can be a type of stronghold, that keeps us from ever moving forward.  We in our minds think we are free when we express ourselves in anger, when really it has us trapped in a viscous cycle.   It eats away at our very core and damages us internally.  You may feel good for a moment of time, but afterward you almost always feel remorse.   If you entertain horrible thoughts even a little, the devil will take that inch and turn it into a mile.  Be careful what you feed your mind with.  (Philippians 4:8)

The Lord is also a stronghold for us.  And He can deliver us from our afflictions if we let go of them.  (Job 36:15)  We can either bow down to our affliction or bow down to God.   And God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)  Why do we feel the need to let our afflictions dominate us, when we have access to such power!  Sometimes our past can become an affliction.  We can walk so far with Christ, but in the back of our minds, we still entertain our pasts.  God has given us new life, and through Him we can renew our minds and let go on these strongholds.  Sometimes it does take time, but there’s never a better time to change your life than now.

My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from violence.” – 2 Samuel 22:3

Afflictions are strongholds.   They can be physical, spiritual, or emotional.  In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul speaks of having a thorn in his flesh, as a type of torment from the enemy, or persecution.  Sometimes afflictions are there for a purpose, to remind us, or test us, or simply something we have allowed for ourselves and need to pray over.    There is nothing Satan can do to a child of God, without God okaying it, do not give the devil credit. Sometimes our afflictions are tests; reminders that we are weak and in need of an all powerful God.  God will never give you more than you can handle, and his grace is made perfect in our weakness.

 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” –  2 Corinthians 12:9

Mental illness can be a type of spiritual affliction.  At times we feel defeated, and simply give in.  When we have an all powerful God that can deliver us from the strongholds of our minds.  What we focus in on, is what we give power to in our lives.  If you are consistently negative and let your temper flare out of control, you are giving the spirit of anger control over your life.  If you ask God to take prisoner your thoughts, you allow room for positive things to happen.

 “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5

I have come to the conclusion that this splinter will remain a part of me, until my body forces it out.  I tried squeezing and chemical methods to draw it out; however it remains.  I’m told the more I pick at it, the deeper set it will get.  But the less I focus and pick on it, the less I feel it, and it will work itself out naturally.  It is nearly gone now, but until then I wait and think on positive things, it really is such a tiny splinter.   It’s like having a rock in your shoe. Doesn’t really hurt it’s just an annoyance.  A wise man once said, “There really is no comfortable place for a rock in your shoe.”



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