One of the tools that is regularly used against us is to create a sense of powerlessness within us. Sadly, it can be very effective whether it stems from a direct spiritual assault or from a person, group, organization, or governing body. The goal of creating a sense of powerlessness is to create doubt, despair, and hopelessness within us so we yield to the source that wants to have power over us. And it can be easy to believe the lie because there are places, times, and people that can exert a great deal of power over us but be clear – it is because you actually have something they want and only if you sense powerlessness can they succeed. In truth they know you have power to deny them what they want.
A clear example of powerlessness is seen in abusive situations of any type. The internal damage can linger long after the abuse stops. Self-doubt has been a favorite tool of the enemy since the Garden of Eden, and he uses it expertly. It can result over time in a learned helplessness.
“Learned helplessness is an orchestrated retreat that has learned to give up before one even tries, because there is no point to pursue an objective that is doomed to failure before ever begun.”Dan Allender in The Wounded Heart
When that operates in anyone’s life or sphere it moves down a slippery slope to despair and a need to deaden our souls.
“Despair is a protective blanket that shields the soul against the cold demands of harsh self-doubt; depression is the middle ground between pressured energy to change and the total abandonment of hope.
Those who abandon hope deaden their soul by cutting off parts of it that still feel rage, pain, and desire and exiting those parts to the furthest reaches of the unconscious.”Dan Allender in The Wounded Heart
Little by little the thing, entity, or person who seeks to have power over us and create a sense of powerlessness causes us to lose our sense of self, wreak chaos in the values and beliefs we hold most dear, and set us up to question our judgment or make errors in using it that would not ordinarily be the case for us. Since often the quest to accomplish this in us begins in subtle ways we may not recognize, the impact can sometimes take time for us to identify. That too is the goal so that we are too far “down the rabbit hole” before we see where we are headed. Those who seek to gain power over us are very good at what they do and use all manner of deceit to take the upper hand.
Despite what you may be tempted to believe or conditioned to accept about the idea of power, a power grab was where it all started when Lucifer wanted to be equal to or above God and it is what was at play with Adam and Eve’s interaction with him. Little wonder that we are snared in the arena of power in one way or another.
“We are centers of power – power that can curse or bless – and are responsible for managing and directing that power. Power doesn’t disappear or diminish when we enter the way of faith. If we are naive with power or disdainful of it, we will either misuse it or allow it to be used by others who are neither innocent or scrupulous.”Eugene Peterson in Reversed Thunder
We have seen the sense of powerlessness grow during the pandemic and how each of us has responded helps to exemplify the theme. We have felt powerless against the virus and also powerless about the various new requirements about how we are to conduct our lives as a result of it. It was hard at the outset but most of us submitted to it. More than a year later we look at this a bit differently in questioning more about how much we are to yield who we are, what we believe in.
We want to be prudent and safe, but many are considering the toll of such a long period of feeling powerless. That is when wisdom and discernment is most needed. A sense of powerlessness can hamper judgment and tempt us to use any and all means to take power back from whatever source we believe has taken it from us. But the enemy counts on that as well and loves to tempt us to behave in ways that we would not tend to do and reveal character traits that we may not have identified within ourselves previously. Our best source for deciding is as it always is – God. He is the only One who can show us the path for how to use his power within us to avoid or escape any snare the enemy sets up for us. Make no mistake – we are either following Him or we are following the one who intends to destroy us through evil.
The path we choose is not always as easy as it may appear. The way of the cross never is. But even then, we see that no one took Christ’s life or choice, He gave it up because He knew the true source of power was his Father.
As we inch closer and closer to the end of the age the battle for power will only increase. Power always wants subjects who are available to use for its purposes.
“We choose: we follow the dragon and his beasts along their parade route, conspicuous with the worship of splendid images, elaborated in mysterious symbols, fond of statistics, taking on whatever role is necessary to make a good show and get the applause of the crowd in order to access power and become self-important. Or we follow the Lamb along a farmyard route, worshiping the invisible, listening to the foolishness of preaching, practicing a holy life that involves heroically difficult acts that no one will ever notice, in order to become, simply, our eternal selves in an eternal city. It is the difference, politically, between wanting to use people around us to become powerful (or, if unskillful, getting used by them), and entering into covenants with the people around us so that the power of salvation extends into every part of the neighborhood, the society, and the world that God loves.”Eugene Peterson in Reversed Thunder
The choice is always ours. Choice was the power God gave us at his creation of us and the responsibility for how we use it is what He will hold us accountable for.