Day after day our mountains were cloaked in the oppression of heat wringing wet with extreme humidity. The air felt thick, making it hard to breathe at times. Headaches were common. A miserable attitude ran rampant from my own heart. Gardens drooped. Flowers sizzled. Animals panted from thirst.
It was miserable.
I was miserable.
And then it happened — I awoke this morning to cool, refreshing air. A gentle breeze carried the chilly air in and out of the open windows. The stickiness was gone. The heavy weight of this unusual heat wave had moved on. I felt bliss. Reprieve.
And then it occurred to me …
God had given me a visual for a very important spiritual principle: the contrast between oppression and His refreshing. For three weeks my spirit had been tormented by the reckless decisions of a loved one. The future hung in the balance. I could barely breathe. Every day was marked with the inability to function except for those essential things that life brings. Oppression pressed against my body, mind, and spirit.
Roget’s Thesaurus describes oppressive in this way: bleak, brutal, burdensome, depressing, discouraging, disheartening, dismal, grinding, harsh, somber, unjust … and this is only a few of the descriptive words used.
Refreshing, on the other hand, is referred to as: breathe new life into, cheer, enliven, exhilarate, quicken, recreate, regain, reinvigorate, rejuvenate, renovate, repair, replenish, restore, resuscitate, revive.
Can you see the picture too?
In my oppressive state — resulting from the enemy’s torment — my future looked bleak, depressing. I felt bathed in discouragement, broken with disheartening circumstances. My mood was somber. My words sometimes harsh. The oppression thickened the air around me and I could scarcely breathe some days. Like the deer panting for the water, my soul panted for the Lord’s deliverance.
But it didn’t come right away.
I had to endure the relentless tentacles of discouragement, at least for a time. I believe God waited so that I might experience the physical sensation of a spirit set free, refreshed by Him alone. My heart, heavy-laden with burdens and multiple sorrows, began to awaken — the crushing pain releasing the oil of the Holy Spirit. Like the cool, dry air flowing in from the Northwest that brought relief from the oppressive heat, the Spirit of God arrived on the wings of the wind to embrace and refresh and restore me.
In place of confusion, He brought His perfect peace.
In place of great sorrow, He tickled me with laughter.
In place of relentless, stifling oppression, He set me free to worship Him once more.
King David expressed my heart beautifully when he wrote the following in Psalm 119:131-135:
I opened my mouth and panted [with anticipation],
Because I longed for Your commandments.
Turn to me and be gracious to me and show me favor,
As is Your way to those who love Your name.
Establish my footsteps in [the way of] Your word;
Do not let any human weakness have power over me [causing me to be separated from You].
Redeem me from the oppression of man;
That I may keep Your precepts.
Make Your face shine [with pleasure] upon Your servant,
And teach me Your statutes.
Do you need a refreshing touch of the Lord? Have you felt the oppressive torment of the enemy of our soul? He is relentless, isn’t he? But our God is faithful. His love never fails. Hold fast to His grace-filled hand and He will establish your footsteps in His Word.
He will set you free to worship, hope, and laugh again.