"And I will put it into the hand of your tormentors, who have said to you, 'Lie down that we may walk over you.' You have even made your back like the ground, And like the street for those who walk over it." Awake, awake, Clothe yourself in your strength, O Zion; Clothe yourself in your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city. For the uncircumcised and the unclean will no more come into you. Shake yourself from the dust, rise up, O captive Jerusalem; Loose yourself from the chains around your neck, O captive daughter of Zion. Isaiah 51:23-52:2 (NASB)

I had a painful experience as a young Christian when someone I respected expressed disappointment and doubt in the sincerity of my walk with the Lord. They had an agenda for my life that was contrary to the direction I was sensing. I was written off and it was devastating to me. For the first time in my life I had to deal with some deep depression as their dismissive and condemning words seeped into my spirit. I had become a victim of someone’s warped outlook instead of the victor God had declared me to be through His Son. As my depression grew so did an overwhelming passivity. In Isaiah 51:23 God tells Israel that their tormentors have told them to lie down that they may walk over their backs and Israel obeyed. They made their backs a smooth road for the enemy to walk over. They were listening to and obeying their enemy and so was I. Only God could lead a depressed person to read a book called Numbers. This is what I read, "And it will come about that the rod of the man w hom I choose will sprout. And behold the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.” Numbers 17:5b and Numbers 17:8b It was there through the written word that His still small voice spoke, “Carol, your life may look like a dried up stick to yourself and others but because I have chosen you, you will bud, bloom, and bear almonds.” Slowly but surely, hope and healing rose like a life giving sap through my wounded heart and emotions. The whispered lies that I was a failure and disappointment to my Father and Savior, and had been forsaken by His Spirit were replaced with spoken truth. I found the corresponding verse in the New Testament to further emphasize this truth. "You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you.” John 15:16. I had read Isaiah 52 in the past but didn’t realize its significance to my life and struggles. God calls out a command to the one who is being walked on by their enemy, “Daughter, wake up, dress up, get up, and free yourself from the chains around your neck.” You have been given everything you need for life and Godliness, (2 Peter 1:3) - now use it. As I gained strength, I read Scripture and Scripture-filled prayers out loud every day. I put on my armor and clothed myself with the Lord Jesus Christ (my beautiful garment). I began to lift the shield of faith to quench the lies and parried with the sword of the Spirit. “I am chosen. I will bear fruit for His glory!” The dark pit of depression crumbled, the chains fell and I once again began to walk in the light as He is in the light. If you are in a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, His word to you is that He has chosen you and appointed you to bear fruit. Realize that you have an enemy. Don’t let his lies find a place of ent ry. Let go of those negative words others may have spoken over you and evict them from your mind. Stop renting them space in your head. Stop the negative chatter of self-criticism. Come into agreement with the Mighty One who has chosen you.

Lord, help me to humbly accept wise counsel and correction. Help me to discern and reject criticism that tears down and does not build up and edify. Help me by Your Spirit to recognize when my own thoughts are negative and faithless. Help me to realize when the enemy is whispering his lies to me. I will hold fast to who You say that I am. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

By Carol (North Carolina, USA)