Unwittingly, I had uncovered a stronghold in my thought process. If something bad happened, it meant that God didn't love me. In her book entitled, Praying God's Word, Beth Moore defines a stronghold as, "Anything that exalts itself in our minds, 'pretending' to be bigger or more powerful than our God. It steals much of our focus and causes us to feel overpowered. Controlled. Mastered" (p. 3). That's exactly where I found myself. I began questioning God's love for me and unintentionally gave the enemy a foothold in my life. Peter gives us an excellent description of our enemy, in addition to some good advice, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
Several years earlier, I had read the words penned by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, "(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds); 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" (KJV; emphasis mine). According to these verses, the battle takes place in our minds. The most effective way to influence our actions is to influence our thinking. Our enemy knows this and daily bombards us with lies, hoping that we won't be able to distinguish a lie from the truth.
Throughout my struggle, God's word assured me that I was not alone. He walked beside me each step of the way, no matter how I felt. The Lord even provided armor for me that would protect me from my enemy. I didn't have to develop a strategy or plot a sneak attack, God's word promised me that all I had to do was stand: "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand" (Ephesians 6:13). If I would wield the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God and lift up the shield of faith which is "able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked," the Lord promised to help me overcome (Ephesians 6:16).
Doctors and counselors played a role in my healing process. Ultimately, it was the word of God that restored my hope and joy. Once I was able to identify my stronghold, feeling unloved, and recognize the lie I was believing, God allowed something bad to happen to me therefore He doesn't love me, I was able to replace the lie with God's truth. I'm assured of God's love for me in the book of Romans, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (5:8). When I chose to believe that God truly loved me and began living like the person of value He created me to be, the chains that imprisoned me were loosed and I could walk away from my stronghold.
I can fully relate to Paul Bunyan's character, Christian, in his timeless classic, Pilgrim's Progress, "What a fool, quoth he, am I, thus to lie in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty! I have a key in my bosom, called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubting Castle. Then said Hopeful, That is good news; good brother, pluck it out of thy bosom, and try. Then Christian pulled it out of his bosom, and began to try at the dungeon-door, whose bolt, as he turned the key, gave back, and the door flew open with ease, and Christian and Hopeful both came out."
Once we're set free from a stronghold, we have a choice to make: do we walk in the truth, or when difficulty strikes do we revert back to the lie? In Galatians 5:1 we're encouraged to, "Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." God's plan for us is to live in the liberty of Christ. Secure in His love and trusting that those things He allows to come into our lives are ultimately for our good and His glory.
Are you wrestling with a stronghold? Replace any lies you've believed with the truth of God's word. Use your newly found 'key' of truth to open the gates of 'Doubting Castle.' Take a step of faith and return to the Master's path for your life! You'll be glad you did!