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Battle Belongs Devotional - Have You Walked Alone?

Ever faced a vast army? Have you walked alone down your driveway to see an angry mob glaring back at you waiting for you to cross the residential boundary line so they could attack? Would you turn around and run back inside? The story in 2 Chronicles describes a vignette like this and is the inspiration behind the song Battle Belongs. The people of God find themselves facing a war they cannot win without help.    In 2 Chronicles 20, one of my favorite stories in the Bible, a huge army has amassed to come against the people of God," Wickham explains. "Every time I sing Battle Belongs, it pumps me up because we know that in anything we might face, our God is bigger. I hope this song reminds people that He is with us and for us. If we stand firm and hold our position, we will see the salvation of the Lord on our behalf!"  - Phil Wickham   We have been facing a pandemic for some time now, and it isn't the virus. The most common presenting issue in my counseling office is anxiety, along with the unbearable feeling of being alone. Unbearable aloneness is the current crisis we face. We may be a part of community groups, bible studies, ministry teams, surrounded by others, and yet, feel lonely. Surrounded by people and still feeling alone seems incongruent. But it is sadly common and very understandable. Aloneness is the vast army many of us face.    I will feel alone, not just in the absence of people around me, but when the people around me don't know who I am. Ask yourself: who knows me? Who knows me at my best along with the side of myself when I am compromised? Does my compromised self stay hidden? When you feel anxious, angry, or disappointed, are you alone in those moments?    At any given time, we can be our best selves or our worst selves. In my work, I notice that we often feel uncared for when we are showing up less than our best selves. When we are afraid that we won't be heard, accepted, or understood, we don't allow others to see behind the curtain of our one-dimensional "Instagram-worthy" personas. We hide from the potential for criticism or judgment. We present only the parts of ourselves that we decide are worthy of being known. We are often validated to keep offering only the good because we experience the same criticism and judgment we fear when we show up compromised.    2 Chronicles 20 where it says "You will not have to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf". – Phil Wickham Do we hold to the distorted belief that we can only bring our best selves to worship? Isn't the better way to hope that our faith communities would be safe for us to show up no matter what? Sadly, many are not. People who have been hurt by church communities often end up in offices like mine. They have been minimized, victimized, and shamed because they risked showing more vulnerable parts of themselves and faced rejection or invalidation. They heard hollow, spiritually sounding phrases; vain attempts meant to offer hope but left them feeling broken and damaged. Hurting people are told to, "cast all their cares onto Jesus," "trust He has a plan," or that "God is using this season to grow you." There is truth in these words, but if we over-spiritualize distress, we serve to protect only ourselves from our discomfort witnessing someone else's pain. If I offer you some spiritual platitude when you bring me your pain, I only create distance between us, and you are left feeling alone with it.    For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. – 2 Chronicles 20:12 Unbearable aloneness is the crisis we face today.  Why are we not brave enough to be with another while they are in pain? Please resist the temptation to rush in to fix, to offer some empty spiritual words; instead, allow each other space to be in it. My Christian clients are often very relieved to hear that they can feel an emotion from beginning to end, and it doesn't mean they are not "trusting" in the Lord. I have witnessed the great misconception or belief that rewards and commends chasing after emotions like joy or peace but criticizes all negative emotional experiences.    What if we stopped being afraid of emotions…both the ones that reside in ourselves and the ones we witness in someone else? What if we humanized emotion? By our very design, God gives us the neurobiological mechanisms to have feelings and respond to His creation.    We can be in awe. We can feel joy. We know sadness.We feel anger…and we can be disappointed, hurt, and betrayed.    All of this is what it means to be human: we feel. Emotions show up in our bodies, wired into our physiology. When we pay attention or notice them, they do come and go like waves come and go. Pathologizing people as "too emotional" or labeling emotions as good or bad feeds loneliness. Emotions exist to help us experience the world God created.    But now, this is what the Lord says- he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: "Do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze; For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. – Isaiah 43: 1-3   Unbearable aloneness is like a vast army standing against us. When faced with profound loneliness, our Father says: I will be with you! It is a battle cry, your war song. Wherever I am, in the middle of the storm, falling from the mountain top or dragging myself across the desert wasteland. My God is with me…undoing my aloneness. In the face of the loneliness experienced globally, knowing that He chooses to be close to me even when I am at my worst, is deeply encouraging.    Imagine the healing possibilities for us if we could be with one another in our pain, sorrow, and disappointment and undo the aloneness so prevalent in our world.    Battle Belongs © 2020 Phil Wickham Music, Simply Global Songs, Sing My Songs (Admin by Essential Music Publishing) Bethel Music Publishing CCLI Song No. 7148126   Tracey Dahl, M.A. is a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) at Shoreline Counselling in Langley, BC (Canada). She is married to Ryan Dahl (Founder of PraiseCharts) and the mother of four grown children.

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