You know, I was just thinking the other morning about what really gives me hope in life, and the answer may surprise you.
When I say what really gives me hope, I am thinking of hope in relation to the times of hopelessness in my life caused by a weakening of faith. Times when God and Heaven no longer seemed real.
You know those times; the world around you is so present, it fills your thoughts and your spirit until there doesn’t seem to be anything in existence except Earth and Mankind. Heaven and God seem so far away and childish, a perfect fairy-tale that you almost feel embarrassed to believe in.
This feeling especially comes for me when someone I love dies; I hope to God they went to Heaven, but I just somehow don’t feel like Heaven is real. Dark thoughts set in. Fear begins to camp around me. Those are the times that I really struggle.
But time and again, one sure knowledge saves me and gives me strength again. And it isn’t the one that Satan wanted.
I happen to have a gift, given to me by God, called the Discerning of Spirits. I can sense spiritual presences; mostly evil ones because they kind of ‘stink’ in the spirit — I mean they are so full of bad vibes that they just fill the atmosphere up with this nasty darkness. (Angels don’t ‘stink’; they are spiritually clean so oftentimes we can’t even tell they are there.)
I remember when God first turned this gift on for me. He told me that He wanted to give me the gift of being able to see into the spiritual realm and I shuddered and pulled back from it immediately. I told Him I didn’t want the gift, because I didn’t want to be able to see demons. I had enough experience with them that I knew they were nasty. Hey, I don’t even like seeing blood and gore on television… I certainly don’t want to see the real thing.
His reply was gentle: “There’s more than just demons in the spiritual realm. What about angels?” But he didn’t push me.
However as the years went on (and I got tricked by enough demons that I decided the gift was a lot more useful than it was disturbing) I came to appreciate the Gift of Discerning of Spirits. (There is no ‘Gift of Discernment’ as people like to abbreviate it, but there is a Gift of the Discerning/Distinguishing of Spirits, as found in 1 Corinthians 12:10.)
I now think of it as one of my most useful spiritual gifts in fact, and one reason is because it brings me enormous encouragement when it comes to believing that God is real. I mean, look, I know God is real… I talk to God all the time. He performs miracles and answers prayers for me. Anything I ask, He will do for me.
But you know how it is; sometimes clever evil spirits can whisper thoughts into our minds like, ‘what you think of as ‘God’ is really just you talking to yourself,’ or ‘what you think of as ‘God’ is actually just your own mystical ancient self which is part of the Greater Consciousness’ or maybe even ‘this person you think of as ‘God’ is actually an alien being of vast power and intelligence’. Or whatever. Satan’s got a whole bag of bull on that topic.
But here’s the thing: I know demons are real. I can sense them. Sometimes, now in a great while, I even see the suckers physically. And yes, they are ugly. I mean ugly in a way you haven’t even seen in horror movies, although those shows are getting awfully close to accurately portraying Satan’s goons.
When doubt and fear and darkness are at their strongest, I can sense a whole bunch of the little bastards all the way around me. I can pinpoint which one of those twisted intelligences is the ringleader, and is the one putting all the pressure onto my spirit to crush me. I know he’s real. And what’s more, I know he’s pure evil.
Now here’s the clincher: if a demon made of pure evil is real — and I can sense him right there — then with just a little nudge of logic I know that pure goodness must also exist.
Pure evil existing without pure goodness existing? Doesn’t make sense. If there is cold, there must be hot. If there is dark, there must be light. One is defined by the presence of the other. We wouldn’t even know what evil was unless good also existed. Good is the very definition of evil; good shows us what evil is.
Since I can clearly see evil then, I know that goodness exists as my measure. I am seeing evil, and I know it is evil, because there is good.
If evil is embodied in a spiritual being, then I know good is the same way. Good is embodied in a spiritual being. There is only one spiritual Being that embodies absolute good: and that is God.
It may be a kind of backward method of encouragement, but it works for me. When darkness is thick, and I can’t see Heaven anymore, when hope has been all but snuffed out and the embers of the fire of my soul are about to die, I know for a fact I will be at that moment surrounded by demons. I always have been. All I have to do is look at them, sense them, discern them, and by their existence know that God is out there too.
And as long as God is out there, I have hope. Anything is possible. God will rescue me. God will lift me up to a high place. And God always does, and always has, and always will.