Fighting Words

Satan tries very hard to cause us to believe false truths. As we begin to believe those false truths and have doubts in our hearts and minds, we begin to turn ever so slightly from Jesus.

Sometimes, I believe the lies.

words + photographs JAYLA PENICK

Some days, I believe I must be happy and joyful at all times as a Christian

I am happy at times, but not at all times. White Water in Branson is a super great day for me. Being able to spend time with most of my family and a few friends, enjoying each other’s company, with very-little-to-no struggle with anxiety or worry, it fills me with happiness and thankfulness for a great day.

But I go through other emotions too, such as sadness, anxiety, fear – all the normal feelings to be felt, especially when I am faced with the unknown. Earlier this year, I chose to send our two oldest children back to public school instead of homeschooling them for a third year. This decision caused a lot of unknowns about how they would do: Would they struggle? Would the other students be nice? I was fearful and anxious. I struggle with believing those emotions are acceptable for a Christian to experience.

Jayla enjoying “teacher night” at a Springfield Cardinals game with co-workers from RidgeKids preschool. 

It is very easy for me to react in an emotional brain-type state instead of being rational and thinking things through. Satan knows this about me. He uses anything he can to get me to doubt who I am and what I can do through Christ.

But reading through my Bible, I see Jesus had various emotions too. It comforts me knowing Jesus laughed, wept, displayed righteous anger. As a follower of Him, I can too. I see how other people felt in Bible times. Even though the situations weren’t exactly the same as today’s, I can relate to the people and their emotions. The more I read, the more I am reminded there is a season for everything. Some moments are full of trials and sorrow, causing other emotions outside of happiness. The writer of 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 reminds me how God encourages my heart and gives me strength.

Some days, I believe I can’t do good things for Jesus

In my life, I have gone through a lot of difficult situations, and I have done things that made me feel I wasn’t a good person. These situations and decisions continue to cause me to believe I’m unable to do good things as an example of Jesus.

When I want to help a few people on the street by getting them something to eat or a blanket, I hesitate because it makes me wonder if I am trying to be prideful as I show people my ability to help, or if I am truly wanting to help because of the love of Jesus in me and wanting to share it with others.

The Bible reminds me I’m not the person I was before Jesus saved me. In 1 Thessalonians 1:4, I am told God has chosen me. Since I have accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation, and I have been given help from the Holy Spirit, God can use me for anything.

Some days, I believe I’m destined to fail or sin

I am very much a perfectionist, and it is hard for me to be OK with making mistakes. Yet, I make many mistakes every single day. It is easy to believe the lie I must be perfect, without flaw, in order to show others Jesus. When we become a Christian, God changes us. We are a new creation and have a new “true north” since we are focused on Christ. We are still human though, so we make mistakes. We still have a war going on inside our flesh daily, leaning us away from God’s best. When Christ comes into our hearts, He takes the old and worldly focus out and replaces it with sensitivity to His instruction (Ezekiel 36:26-27), so we favor sin less. As Christians, we also have access to divine power to fight and conquer any sin in our lives and live in holiness (2 Peter 1:3).

Some days, I believe God doesn’t care about what is going on in my life

With so many people in the world, how does God care about what is going on in my life? I have many times struggled with praying about the simple things because I feel He doesn’t care or doesn’t want to know. Satan likes to make me think God doesn’t care, but the Bible says differently. If God knows the number of hairs on my head (Luke 12:7) and delights in me (Psalm 37:23), He surely cares for me (1 Peter 5:7). He wants me to talk to Him about anything and everything in my life. Even bringing my anger, fear, frustration to Him, not just my good, happy feelings.

“Lord,” I say, “help me get through this day.” Or hour. Or minute. I’ve recently prayed all three. “I’m struggling, and I need to feel your presence, love, and peace now more than ever before.”

Back to school pictures of the Penick kids: 8th grade
Back to school pictures of the Penick kids: 3rd grade
Back to school pictures of the Penick kids: preschool

I work daily to not give into false truths and doubts. But God gave us His word to encourage us, strengthen us and show us we aren’t going through things on our own nor are we the only ones who have gone through difficulties. He also places people in our lives who can encourage us and help keep our eyes focused on Jesus. I have noticed I struggle less when I am part of an accountability group. We check in with each other about reading the Bible and praying. We talk about what we are going through so we can pray and encourage each other. I highly recommend finding a group of people you can be accountable with while also reading God’s Word to fill your heart and mind with the truth to combat the lies. JP

Jayla Penick is a Jesus lover who lives in Springfield, Missouri, and teaches at RidgeKids preschool. She and her husband, David, are parents to one son and two daughters.

COVER Jayla and her husband, David, waiting for the for KING & COUNTRY concert in 2022.


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