“For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way” (1 Thessalonians 2:18).

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Meet Frog; the garden ornament, to which I never meant to become so attached, but now, I wouldn’t think of not having him to welcome guests to my home. I feel a lot like Frog looks; Frog is showing the wear and tear that comes from being exposed to the elements, and perhaps, that’s why I have grown so attached over the years. My little ceramic frog faithfully sits there day after day, week after week, month after month, and so on… getting beaten by whatever nature throws his way, yet he stands firm and endures. And despite the chipped paint, and rough edges, Frog sits there waiting with a flower in hand. Hopefully, Frog will be with me for many more years to come.

I have written honestly and openly about my journey in the past; the lows as well as the highs—when the Spirit provided relief. I don’t know about how your relationship with the Lord works, but I can see His hand at work in my life moving mountains, as well as other would-be opposition, but He doesn’t move all that opposes me, not immediately. Not that I would ever dream of comparing my own witness with that of the apostle Paul, I think I can relate to Paul’s “thorn in the flesh,” including human “messengers” Satan uses, witting and unwitting, to prevent me from fulfilling the work God has called me to do (2 Corinthians 12). The power that opposes me does so for specific purposes, of which I am not unaware, and it has opposed me in a steadily increasing measure. Unlike Frog, I haven’t been faithful or steadfast. I have been wresting with God for some time, and the enemy has used circumstances to oppress my mind and bring frustration and confusion.

“For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way” (1 Thessalonians 2:18). I know that my struggle isn’t against flesh and blood, but instead, the spiritual forces in the heavenly realms and authorities of this dark world (Ephesians 6:12). Twice Paul tried to return to Thessalonica, and each time Satan hindered him from doing so. Although the precise nature of Paul’s opposition may be unknown to us, what we do know is that the Holy Spirit was never defeated. Sometimes hindrance comes from God (Acts 16:6), while other times, the enemy is permitted to oppose us, but I take comfort in that God works all things together for good for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). God recently allowed that dark power to make its presence known to me. Then I received the answer to my predicament in a Proverb, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (3:5-6), and a familiar warning in Luke, “But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more” (12:48).

What do I ask of you, my brothers and sisters in Christ? I ask for your continued prayers, as I am overjoyed to pray for each of you. I also ask for your patience and understanding; that you measure out your judgement thoughtfully, and God forbid, that my vulnerability isn’t used as fodder for gossip or self-righteousness critique. If sharing confidences and seeking prayer are interpreted as an invitation for such careless, hurtful chatter, then I’ll find myself other prayer warriors, not so much for my own wellbeing as for yours. Paul goes on to write to the believers at Thessalonica, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11), for Proverbs teaches, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (18:21). The children of God already have a fierce adversary, literally, hell-bent on bringing about our destruction; therefore, though victory has already been won in Jesus Christ, let’s be careful not to lend the devil any helping hands.

I am already so tired, and I haven’t even hit any real hardships yet, none compared to what’s coming. God help me.

Thankfully, writing this blog has been edifying and therapeutic and a source of great joy for me. I hope that by sharing my own journey, the good and the bad, that somehow I am taking part in the Great Commission, if only just a small part.

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