I am starting a new regular series on my Patheos column called “Conversation Piece.” It will be a different topic each time designed to start a – wait for it – conversation.
I will present different points of view and ask for your contributions in the comments. For the first week, I want to talk about how we tell the difference between a sign from God or a roadblock from satan. Let me explain.
Sometimes things happen in our lives that set us back a bit or challenge us. Oftentimes we categorize these things as signs/warnings/tests from God or we say it’s satan trying to hold us back. The problem is, how do we know which is which? How do we know something we’ve put into the God category isn’t really in the satan category?
I’ll use myself as an example.
I mentioned in a previous column that I have a bunch of health issues. The most life-altering is something called a Chiari Malformation. I won’t go into extreme detail, but the gist is that my brain’s cerebellum is sinking into my spinal column. This impedes the free flow of cerebrospinal fluid which causes pressure in different places and on different nerves and causes all kinds of weird symptoms. If so inclined, you can read more here.
Some symptoms are always with me, but some come and go. Flare-ups can be debilitating. They often get me down because they make doing everyday things so difficult. I’m learning to deal with it, but I often get kindhearted encouragement from different people who tell me one of three things:
It’s God trying to teach you strength and reliance on Him!
It’s God trying to teach you to be still!
It’s satan throwing roadblocks in your way!
Sooooo… which is it?
And how do I tell? I suppose context clues can help. Have I been “overdoing it” and not taking care of myself? Have I been struggling and feeling weak? Have I been doing well and am I on the road to something good, so satan is like “whoa, hold up!”? Perhaps it’s all of these at one time or another and it depends on the current situation.
Or maybe it’s none of these, and I simply have a chronic brain issue that causes problems sometimes?
Let’s have a conversation about this. I truly don’t have an answer, and I would love to know how to discern when God is speaking to me, or when satan is screwing with me, or when it’s simply just the way it is. I think we tend to assign a “heaven or hell” causation to things because it’s easier to accept than “It’s just the way it is.”
I do believe, though, that there are times when God is trying to teach us and when satan is trying to stop us. I have been in many situations when I thought God wasn’t answering prayers but later found out He was teaching me something. I’ve also been in situations where I fully believe that satan was trying to send storms so I would stop reaching for my dreams. I just don’t always know how to tell while it’s happening and I would love to learn.
So please, comment below and tell me your stories and your ways of discerning the messages you receive and how you interpret them. Let’s open a constructive discussion and see if we can teach and help each other.
Also, please feel free to email me or use the socials to reach out and tell me some questions you have that you would like featured as a Conversation Piece.
Come on… let’s start a conversation!
Comment below! Thoughtful, respectful comments are welcome and encouraged.