I have found the enemy of our souls (Satan) will seek to attack us in some of the following ways: temptation, distraction, discouragement, doubts, fear, oppression & opposition.
In this article I want to address oppression and opposition; but then also times when it may not be the enemy hindering God’s will, but God actually directing or delaying us in accordance with His will!
Let’s start with oppression. Oppression is that feeling that the weight of the world is on your shoulders in a way that depletes you of joy, peace and strength. It’s bearing a “heavy load” or weighty “yoke.” It causes us to feel very sluggish and “tired” with little desire to pray, worship or spend time in God’s Word. Sometimes oppression comes upon us as a result of our own sin and straying from the Lord. Sometimes oppression comes from what other people do to us. Sometimes it is simply spiritual warfare directly from Satan.
One of the beautiful promises of Scripture is that God see’s, cares and has power to deliver us from oppression. In Psalm 12:5 God Himself says: “Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise,” says the Lord. “I will protect them from those who malign them.” The whole story of God delivering His people from slavery and “oppression” in Egypt is predicated on the fact that the Israelites began to cry out to God in regard to their oppression. Moses reminded the Israelites in Deuteronomy 26:7 that: “Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression.”
This is one of the keys to combating oppression: cry out to the Lord in prayer! Call upon His name. There is power in His Name and peace in His presence. Come to Jesus. Jesus Himself, in a statement that reveals His heart of compassion (and power) said in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Rest assured, God cares and has power to set you free from oppression. In one of the most beautiful prophecies in regard to Jesus’ coming, one part of it states in Isaiah 9:4: “For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.” A major part of Jesus’ ministry and presence is setting the oppressed free.
I have found that when I am oppressed, getting into His presence and simply worshiping Him until the oppression lifts is crucial. However, when you are oppressed you don’t feel like doing anything…especially worshiping! But it’s in His presence that there is victory, freedom, deliverance and peace, joy and strength is restored.
Secondly, the enemy also seeks to oppose the will of God and plans of God in your life. He seeks to thwart and hinder any movement forward or advancement or spiritual growth to once again rob of joy. In 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 for example, Paul writes to the Thessalonian believers this: “For we wanted to come to you — certainly I, Paul, did, again and again — but Satan stopped us. For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.”
Recently, at the time of writing this, this is one of the main tactics I have been experiencing. This can also then cause oppression. But what God laid on my heart to combat this is greater prayer and intercession until it “breaks” or the way/door opens up. One of my favorite verses in the book of Song of Solomon puts it this way in Song 4:6: “Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, I will go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of incense.” Myrrh in Scripture speaks of sorrow. Incense is pictured elsewhere as representing prayer. Prayer is often hard work and can be likened to “climbing” a mountain or “hill.” But it’s in that place of prayer and intercession that things are moved forward in accordance with God’s will! This verse spiritually speaking, is saying “until the light drives out this darkness and there is breakthrough I will continue to remain in the place of prayer!” Remember, 2 Corinthians 10:4 tells us: “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” Prayer is one of those weapons we have that has divine power and results in God’s power being demonstrated in situations beyond our human ability or strength. I have been experiencing that reality just recently and it is encouraging!
Lastly, let me address two other realities. And this is where we need wisdom and discernment that can only come from the Spirit of God. There are times or situations where it is not Satan opposing or thwarting, but God redirecting or delaying us!
Acts 16:6-10 for example records this: “Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
Notice it wasn’t Satan who prevented them from entering these territories; it was God directing them to where He wanted them to be! Sometimes God closes doors, because there is another door elsewhere He wants us to go through. We need to ask God for wisdom as to whether He is redirecting us or whether it is the enemy hindering us.
Other times it may not be the enemy opposing but God delaying. To the Roman believers Paul wrote in Romans 1:13: “I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.”
Here we learn sometimes God may delay us not because it isn’t His will or the enemy opposing; but because it’s not yet the right time. Fruit for example, needs time to ripen before it can be picked and enjoyed. Sometimes God has to do a work in advance to the work He is calling us to do! Sometimes this is a work that has to be done in us, other times a work in those we are being sent to, so that it will be effective and fruitful and accomplish the purpose God intends.
The point is we need spiritual discernment to know what is really going on spiritually. That can only come from asking God! And thankfully, James 1:5-8 reminds us that: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”
Seek God to “see” spiritually what you are up against. If it is oppression or opposition that comes from Satan, hunker down in worship and prayer. If however, it is God redirecting or delaying, trust in Him and submit to Him. He knows what He is doing!