It has often been my observation that whenever it seems that something should be at its best, the devil sets out to attack it with his worst.
Like when you have a swell of inspiration to do good and please God in everything, and all of a sudden you find yourself experiencing annoyance after annoyance, and pretty soon your swelling aspirations come crashing down as you snap out in exasperation.
Or like when you share your heart with a friend, a child, a spouse, a sibling – a blog reader – about what God has been teaching you. And then before the day is over, you find yourself humiliated by your failures and thinking yourself very ill-equipped indeed to teach others.
Or like when a special holiday is coming up – a birthday, an anniversary, Christmas – a day destined to be full of love and joy and laughter and peace. And instead you find yourself struggling with a grumpy attitude and selfish desires that only leave you more and more miserable.
Maybe you don’t experience this in your life. But I certainly do in mine.
Why is this?
I suppose there are several reasons.
One would be pride. You start noticing your righteousness in a self-righteous way. “I was so patient in dealing with Little Brother just then, wasn’t I?” “Just think – God has taught me a lesson and now I can share it with others. I wonder what they think of me?” “I handled that situation so much better than so-and-so would have.”
How shameful to me now to recall how many times such thoughts have crossed my mind! Thoughts I had to promptly thrust away – or chose to relish for a forbidden moment.
And if I did choose, if I let pride have its foothold in my door, a lot of other things came in with it. And pretty soon the room was full of all sorts of negative thoughts and feelings, working together to bring about a downfall I hardly expected.
Which brings me to a second, very related reason – overconfidence. This is what tends to happen when I’m “walking on air,” enjoying a mountaintop experience, reveling in God’s close Presence. I feel so near, so in tune to Him, surely nothing can touch me. But my eyes are not watchful for the enemy, and before I know it, I find myself tripping over his snares and tumbling down my high mountain and landing with a thud in the valley below.
Because you know what? The devil doesn’t like mountains. He doesn’t like to see us passionate about God and fulfilling His pleasure. And when he sees that happening – when he sees those times when everything should be at its best – he sets out to bring us down. He doubles the attack against our walls, searching for any little crack through which he can squeeze. He finds a loose stone called Pride – he brings it tumbling down. He finds the gates undefended – Overconfident – he walks right in. And then he exploits his minor victories, triumphing in them and further tearing us down so that we become despondent, discouraged, robbed of our God-given joy, wondering how we could have been so foolish as to let him have the upper hand – again.
The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He is the accuser of the brethren. He walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, and having done all, to stand. For He that is in you is greater than he who is in the world. We are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.
Satan wants to see you fall. He wants to see me fall. He wants to turn our moments of triumph into moments of defeat, our glorious mountaintops into despondent valleys, our times of joy into times of sorrow.
But we don’t have to let him win!
When we’re on the mountaintop, we can look ahead for the snares, and destroy them instead! We can be ready, watching for his temptations, and avoiding them in God’s strength! We can stand firm. Be alert. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life. Resist the devil, and watch him flee. Draw near to God, and see Him draw nearer to you.
It’s when we’re at our best that Satan most wants to see us fall. It’s when we’re doing the most for God’s kingdom, that he wants to see us fail. It’s when the times of joy come that Satan wants to see us miss out on the joy. And it is especially at those times we need to be watchful – so that he falls instead of us! So that he fails instead of us! So that he is upset – instead of us!