What’s a stronghold? Simply put, it’s anything that has a strong hold on us. It’s usually rooted in faulty thinking patterns and lies we believe.
Fear is a stronghold with which many people struggle, myself included.
When my kids were preschoolers, an unknown intruder broke into our home and stole my jewelry and camera. The thief was never caught. For a couple of years afterwards, I feared staying home alone with my children when Gene traveled for work.
Faulty thinking convinced me that the thief would strike again in Gene’s absence, and he’d probably do so at night. I’d be easy prey, and I’d never be able to save my children. Fear’s strong hold on me made sleep impossible. I even kept the bedroom light on so I could see the intruder’s face and later identify him in a police line-up.
Another stronghold with which many people struggle is food.
Been there, done that. My issue began when I was about six years old. A local restaurant went out of business and sold its stock, so my dad brought home cartons of chocolate bars and individual-sized bags of chips. He stored them in the dark closet under the stairwell.
I craved those snacks, but I figured Mom would say no if I asked her permission to eat them. So, I’d sneak into that closet and help myself. Decades later I identified a pattern that I’d carried with me in our empty-nesting years—eating in secret. I’d gorge on chips or chocolate alone in my office or before bedtime if Gene was away even though I knew this was unhealthy for me.
Other strongholds can include pornography, jealousy, greed, laziness, gossip, gluttony, perfectionism, and depression. The list goes on. They slap cuffs on us and steal the freedom for which God created us.
Strongholds are rooted in faulty thinking and lies; God’s truth tears them down. I experienced this in both of the personal examples I gave. In the first example, I stopped focusing on the what-ifs of a thief returning to my house and started meditating on God’s promise to protect me. Courage replaced fear. One night when Gene was away, I asked God to post angels at both doors and every corner of the house, and then I turned off the light and slept soundly. That stronghold has never returned.
In the latter situation, I stopped focusing on my appetite for comfort food and started thanking the Holy Spirit for giving me the ability to say no to temptation. On a couple of occasions when I felt weak, I applied Scripture that said to flee temptation. I either left the house to take a walk or threw the junk food in the garbage.
Romans 12:2 says, “…Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Changing the way we think means identifying the lies and replacing them with the Truth. But knowing it isn’t enough; we must apply it too. As our thoughts align with God’s, our behavior changes as well. Strongholds come down brick by brick, and transformation takes place.
Psalm 18:2 encourages me in this topic of strongholds. It says, “The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the strength of my salvation, and my stronghold.”
Sin loses its strong hold on us when God is our stronghold. May He be your stronghold today.