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Maybe, you like me, have come to know difficult people. Maybe, even VERY difficult people. Perhaps, these people were not only strangers, neighbors or friends. Well, you might have had to deal with difficult loved ones for years or even decades. As much as we should love our enemies when they attack us, speak evil of us, yeah, persecute us because we follow Christ, in the same way we ought to be cautious to listen to God’s leading when we are confronted with such persons.

It is not helpful to always blame ourselves for not being able to love them as we think we should. Sometimes, instead, we need to take a stand and resist the devil who drives them. If we submit to a controlling and manipulative spirit in others, we cannot follow the Lord just the same. In such cases Satan is allowed to make us angry, upset, resentful and… we are hurting at that! Yet, is all this pain really necessary, i.e., has it all been part of God’s plan for us? Or was it rather the devil who knows the full range of how to destroy our God-given peace through any kind of dead works of the flesh? 🤔

I will give you an example here. For decades I have struggled with a helper syndrome plus a people pleaser personality of sorts. I know I have been that way all my life, like my mom and her mom as well. The reason for behaving that way lies in an extreme longing for (outer) harmony. Even though we might sense that such a harmony is only superficial (as the struggle keeps tormenting our inner man), we do everything to comply with the manipulator’s “rules”.

If we ask ourselves honestly, “Are we happy while doing so?” well, we need to admit that the only gain here is to be “loved” or at least accepted by others ….. as long as we do what they want us to do. And, dear brothers and sisters, their requests can sound very sincere to an undiscerning Christian ear. What do I mean by this?

I do not want to share too many personal details here as I know that one or another family member checked my blog in the past (to ridicule my Christian topics as “hyper-Christian”). So I try to cut my personal story as short as possible in order to rather point to God’s liberating power afterwards. As for me, I have been struggling with ill health for more than 16 months now. Covid-19 and about 25 different post-Covid symptoms have had a severe deteriorating effect on both my body and outer appearance (that is, I lost my facial and body hair completely) and on my mental health as well. I do not want to complain nor lament here as I have felt God’s presence all along, for which I am incredibly grateful.

Last year one of my loved ones asked me a favor. This person needed my help as for filling in some papers. Usually, I always support this person, but at that time I felt the Holy Spirit warning me, not as subtly as usual, in fact, even strongly. This person wanted to apply for public funds by using a lie. As I asked this person whether what should have been jotted down on the paper was really the truth, this person began to evade my questions by trying to embellish the lie. I felt repelled and said that I would not support a lie, ever. I would only help there if everything written down was the truth. That was it for me, indeed. However, from that day on I had more than one enemy in my family as several people came to know what I “did”. So I know now how persecution in your own family looks like as I have been ridiculed regarding my physical and mental suffering, too. That hurt a lot, I can tell you… 😦

Last week things seemed to have got worse and worse. Actually, I have felt depressive for more than six months now during which I kept weeping and weeping, not being able to change my mental situation. It was not clear to me what was wrong as I sensed the Lord close to me all the time. He was still answering my prayers, yet only for others, as it seemed to me. 🙄 So, I let others pray for me and I was waiting month after month. Alas, no real breakthrough, quite the contrary, it appeared to me at times. It was like being stuck in a paralyzing stage. I could not remember when I had felt joy in the Lord for the last time; indeed, Susanne was like a walking dead. As long as I cared for others, I could partly forget my many problems. But finally, caring for others did not work anymore, either. My battery was empty as I was running out of all life energy. Nothing worked as it did before. Panic attacks arising, anxiety, confusion – you name it.

I recall there was a day last week when I looked at a Scripture I had kept on a bookshelf. It was John 10:10 that contains Jesus’ promise to give life, even abundantly. To be honest, I was tempted to tear it to pieces, doubting that I would ever see the light again. The apostle Paul knew similar situations when he wrote,

“For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” (2 Cor 1:8-9 ESV)

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” (2 Cor 4:7-10 ESV)

One evening as I was trying to pray in the living room, I saw Jesus to my right side in the spirit. I could not clearly see His face, only his shape, so to say. The light around Him seemed to be rather dark, too. I felt no nudge to say anything as I was simply sitting there, awaiting nothing. So sad, so hopeless, having run out of all possible prayer requests as well. Suddenly He raised a question. Even as He began to speak, I felt it was truly God’s voice. So clear, so easy to discern, His words started to have an effect on me human words never have had. Jesus asked seriously, almost with a sad undertone,

“Do you believe that I am the life?”

I sensed that He did not expect an answer. Instead, this short and seemingly simple question has begun a work inside me as these words immediately started to reverberate in my whole being, triggering every dead spot they could reach. The first effect was that I kept weeping for one and a half hours without ceasing. But for the first time I felt relieved as I could let it all out, so to speak. All this frustration, all the pain, my helplessness to change anything, my utter inability to rejoice in the Lord always and so on and so on. For the first time I saw that Jesus had been really sad, too, as He felt compassion with me in a way I had never expected. From that evening on, things have begun to change for the better, even rather quickly.

The very next day I came to see that I have had internal ‘laws’, tradition, habits, however you call it, that kept me from following the Lord closely. While fellowshipping on the phone, Michael Clark (see https://awildernessvoice.blog/about/) said an interesting thing to me. He told me about how Paul reacted when Jesus met him on the road of Damascus. Paul was blinded by the light and did not know who this Lord could be. It seemed to me that was my experience during the last year plus something as well. Although I should have known from the past that God is love, I could not feel it anymore. At times it seemed that He was all against me due to these many trials that were so often sheer torment. Theoretically I knew that I have been under attack due to a spiritual warfare that has been going on, yet I wondered why Jesus helped almost everyone I prayed for but not me! 🙄

Michael had shared several Scriptures with me, yet all of a sudden, I heard the Holy Spirit speaking to me when Michael asked, “Paul knew the Law, but did He know the Lord?” Ha! 😊 Michael found out that I have had several laws inside me that kept me from closely following the Lord as to his moment-by-moment guidance. For instance, the law of being “a good daughter”, “a good daughter-in-law”, “a good neighbor”, “a state-law-fulfiller”, whatever. Day after day I sense as soon as I have been triggered by someone’s words or behavior that the reason for feeling this pain is another deeply rooted law inside me that bars me from real life and freedom in Christ. Indeed, this is bondage!

Imagine that I always run when someone needs my help, even only on the phone. I have learned to not do it with commenters on the internet and strangers anymore, yet I have had to learn it regarding family, too. There are manipulative relatives who know that they get my attention when they want it because if I cannot immediately comply with their requests, they somehow make me feel ‘guilty’ (I guess they were most of the time not aware of their own doing here). For years I could not comprehend why some people could trigger me so easily. Avoiding them did not help as whatever they had said or done never disappeared from my mind and imagination. Although I could superficially forgive them, the pain resulting from their offenses was still inside my heart. :-/

It was only yesterday on another Catholic feast day in Germany that Jesus has begun to surprise me. My hubby Paul and I wanted to spend a restful day together at home. However, beginning at noon someone with a controlling spirit called several times on the phone. Usually, I either responded at once or I felt driven to call back later since I could not say no to such an obligation; often times it was even a ‘I MUST do it’, i.e., I had to keep ‘the law’ I have learned in childhood or later. Not so yesterday.

This person spoke on the answering machine, and I could clearly hear the wish to control us. They thought we were at home and did not answer intentionally (which was true). Therefore this person got really mad at us. Before we had felt some peace, but then it was all gone. Yet out of the blue, Jesus told me to RESIST this old familiar ‘urge’ to comply. Believe it or not, even at that very moment, I was set free. Boom!! Invisible chains seemed to have fallen down and I felt no false guilt and no nudge to call back at all. 😊 For the very first time in my life I had the strength to resist the spirit in a close relative. And I felt such Joy! And Life! And Peace! And even the power to control my own thoughts and behavior. I was amazed at how that had happened in such a short time.

As I was happily walking to and fro the long corridor of our flat, enjoying this new freedom, I perceived somehow Jesus walking inside me. Huh? 🙄 What an amazing condition! 😊 It was no longer the old miserable and weak “I” that was crawling about in order to please people. Instead, I felt the Lord was pleased with this “Walking Liberty” (which was a sort of prophecy God once gave me through Michael years ago). 😉

So, this person called us a second time, and a third time shortly afterwards… and even a fourth time yesterday. I did not call back as I heard an evil spirit manifesting, even on the answering machine. It was nasty, it was ugly, and very offensive… but I felt no anger or resentment anymore, I felt free to live AND to love without holding back anything. Wow… 🙄  

I have realized that loving our enemies is always only possible if we understand the laws inside them that keep them in bondage. The more God shows me my own internal laws (and boy, there are many!), the more I see them working in others, too. It seems there is no need for me to explode anymore. Furthermore, there is no need to re-act according to anyone’s wishes and desires but God’s alone. Jesus Himself never reacted, He always acted on what He saw His Father doing. Again, it was Michael Clark who once shared this revelation with me when God had told him, “There is only a Book of Acts, not of Re-Acts.” 😉 So very true! 😊

I was just reminded of the following Scripture that made it clear to me that God never speaks to us without a reason.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” (Isaiah 55:8-13 ESV – emphasis in italics added)

It seems that we always experience the power of His resurrection after we have had a share of the fellowship of His sufferings also. I do know that when we are somehow stuck inside the suffering state, we can hardly see anything good anymore. Then we need to cling to mere faith in God and wait on the Lord, as hard as it seems to be at times. Even if we must wait on Him for a very long period of time, we should trust that God always keeps His promises. And even if our circumstances have not changed yet, the power of His resurrection allows us to share more of God’s higher perspective on all things that belong to this earthly life. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Freedom, indeed!

It was also yesterday that I saw why I had so little success in resisting the devil in the past. Often times I felt like a puppet in the hands of evil spirits that kept torturing me with their flaming darts for many years. As far as I remember, it was only a few times that I sensed the Lord setting me free during that period. Reading the Scripture beneath, the scales fell from my eyes.

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 ESV)

Oh my, I had tried to resist the devil on my own before my whole being had been submitted to God. I never saw the context here so clearly before! We cannot submit to God and to the devil at the same time, it is always either – or. However, we cannot set ourselves free, either. This process like any other spiritual work has been God’s doing alone. Period.

I have been humbled by God through all this suffering, but I am deeply thankful today!


All images © Susanne Schuberth 2021