“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”  John 14:16-17

Self-destruction is a dangerous course to plot. Yet, out of brokenness, I did exactly that. It was easier to punish myself through promiscuity and alcoholism in an effort to numb the pain than to face my weaknesses.

Truth be told, I was being sold a pack of lies by the enemy who had a firm grip on my soul — Satan. Winston Churchill once quipped,

When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”

While battling against false satisfaction and fractured purpose, I was too blind to see that the men I conquered and the alcohol I swilled were the enemies. Until, one day, an unsuspecting force gently nudged a door open to reveal the truth of the Holy Spirit. The lies I’d been led to believe — sex as love and acceptance, and alcohol as an appropriate sedative — were annihilated.

There was a paramount shift in my heart and mind. As much as I needed Jesus as my Savior, I knew I also needed the Holy Spirit’s guidance. He counselled me into healing and wholeness. I still pray each day for his direction to live my life.

Today’s verses aren’t wishful thinking. They are Jesus’ words to us as a guarantee of a beautiful existence. While discouragement comes in our lives, the promise of the Holy Spirit’s leadership should bring joy and peace. He will show us the way. May we, as Christians, always heed his prompting in a way that makes him known to others.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your words from the book of John and for the promise of your Holy Spirit that resides in me. There’s no way I could navigate my life without his direction and power. May I always be ready to live out the guidance your Holy Spirit provides for my life. I thank you and praise you, Jesus, and it’s in your name I pray. Amen.

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,  and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,  that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;  in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”  Philippians 3:8-11

The apostle Paul understood how to handle tough circumstances. Even while he was confined in a prison cell, he kept his eyes on Christ and trusted firmly in the Savior. Therefore, despite being in chains, he was able to celebrate the Lord’s work in his life. In fact, the epistle he wrote from jail to the Philippians was filled with rejoicing (1:18; 2:18; 3:1).

Focusing on Christ is neither a natural reaction nor an easy one. Our instinct is to dwell on the situation at hand, searching for solutions or stewing over the pain and difficulty. As a result, troubles look scary and overwhelm us with a sense of defeat.

However, fear and defeat cannot live long in a heart that trusts the Lord. I’m not saying you’ll forget what you’re going through, but you can choose to dwell on His provision and care instead. He is the Deliverer (2 Corinthians 1:10). He is the Healer (Deuteronomy 32:39). He is the Guide (Proverbs 3:6).  The believer who lays claim to divine promises discovers that God pushes back negative emotions. In their place, hope, confidence, and contentment take up residence (Philippians 4:11). You aren’t going to be happy about a difficult situation, but you can be satisfied that God is in control and up to something good in the midst of trouble.

The Lord’s principles and promises don’t change, no matter how severe or painful the situation is. Focus on Christ instead of the circumstances—God will comfort your heart and bring you safely through the trial. Then you can answer Paul’s call to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4).