I never used the word “stronghold” before I became a Christian.
But in one week not long ago, I heard two pastors talk about strongholds. Although I thought I knew about the concept in Scripture, these two pastors gave me some fresh insights.
The first pastor, whom I listened to on the radio, told me to stop saying the word “addiction” and instead use the word “stronghold.” One reason he gave was this: “the word ‘addiction’ does not appear in Scripture.”
I admitted after hearing him, that when I prayed I did ask God to help my loved ones get over their addictions—to gambling, alcohol, drugs, working, pornography and the list goes on.
One thing about the word “stronghold” is that it is more descriptive than the word “addiction.” For my loved one with a severe gambling problem, gambling certainly has a strong hold on his life.
I looked up the word “stronghold” in the dictionary recently. I read: “A place that has been fortified so as to protect against attack; a well-fortified place, a fortress.”
So is my stronghold the place I go when I feel attacked, my fortress where I can hide and feel safe?
Since I heard that pastor on the radio say to use “stronghold” instead of “addiction,” I’ve been doing so. Lord, deliver ____ from the stronghold of gambling.” “Deliver ____ from the stronghold of drugs.”
Then I started thinking, What are my strongholds? Two came to mind: food and TV. I’ve admitted many times before that I struggle with both of these. How interesting that these were the two main fortresses I ran to as a child when life seemed more than I could bear. I didn’t turn to God since He seemed an absent Father, who was talked about in church and occasionally in our home, and someone we prayed to, but never seemed present, like my faithful, visible companions of food and television.
So is a stronghold something we turn to instead of God? If I’m honest I have seen food and TV as places that protected me against attack and as fortresses I could run to–especially as a child.
The second pastor who talked about strongholds was the pastor at my home church.
We were studying II Corinthians 10 that day and Pastor was going through the chapter verse by verse. When he came to verse 4, my ears perked up: “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (NIV). Then he read verse 5, which I had never connected to the strongholds verse, even though it comes immediately after it: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
What the pastor concluded from putting those verses together was that every stronghold is based on a lie or lies, so we need the truth to get rid of strongholds. I had never heard or thought of that before in quite that way.
However, I had been delivered from other strongholds, like fear, by letting go of the lies like, “I have no choice but to be fearful” and by embracing truth like “I can be delivered from fear” as presented in Psalm 34:4: “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”
As I pondered the lie vs the truth in regard to my strongholds of TV and food, I realized one lie I believed in connection with them both was that I could receive comfort from them that I could not receive from the Lord.
I confessed once again as I have so many times before that even though in so many ways I am freer from these than ever before, I still tend to turn to them in difficult times when it seems the more I pray, the worse circumstances become. With the TV shows I watch—House Hunters and others on HGTV, Judge Judy, and baseball–everything is solved or there is a winner or loser during the half hour or hour show, (baseball takes a bit longer).
Yet, in my life with God, I’ve been praying many prayers for decades which are still not answered to my satisfaction, and the circumstances still bring much heartache.
With food, I feel better right away when I eat some sweets during those times my life and the people around me seem so far from being sweet.
The truth is that when I turn to God in hard times instead of to food and TV, He does bring sweetness into my life as I let go of demanding that He solve every circumstance in my life according to my time table. Instead of bringing change to circumstances, He brings blessings which bring changes in me—comfort, peace, joy, and hope.
I praise God that as I use His weapons—especially the weapon of truth—the strongholds in my life can be demolished.
Next week, I will bring part 2 of “Tearing Down Strongholds.”
“Even Then” by Micah Tyler