How "bad" 2011 was for me may not sound very bad to you. Like when Steve McCoy told me about a time when his migraine headache was so intense they had to take him to the hospital. It really sounded awful, but my "worst-best-friend" response was, "So, that whole story boils down to you getting a headache, and going to the hospital for it? You're a baby." The most prominent problem for me was ongoing anxiety and fear. This was something very new. I was fearful when I wouldn't normally be, and when I shouldn't be. I was riddled with anxiety before preaching, meeting with friends, ministering to couples, etc. Often, before engaging in a particular area of ministry I feared I would be ineffective. Afterward I was convinced the people I just spoke with or to thought I had wasted their time. For example, on several occasions when walking away from a meeting where I sought to help a couple we would smile, shake hands, and as I looked in their eyes I would almost heard the devil say, "You were no help to them. You've got nothing."
To be completely honest I have never been a guy with a lot of self-confidence. I made up for it as a lost teenager by acting tough and getting into trouble. Even after my conversion and throughout ministry I have never been a believer in me or my abilities, but I have always been convinced that God can use anyone, and my confidence rested in him. But during 2011 all confidence faded, my faith weakened, and in this fragile state the Devil began to lay into me. I'll share more on the spiritual warfare aspect of all this in later post, but when I was at my weakest I was under the most severe spiritual attack I've experienced as a Christian. I knew God was with me, but I wasn't often experiencing divine comfort. When I did experience it it was in small measure and only after spending long periods of time seeking, waiting, praying, and crying out.
How bad was it? It was bad. Really bad for me. But God was faithful throughout, and I am eager to share just how he led me out of this dark place. But first, I need to explain how I wound up there. I'll do that in the next post.