Do you feel attacked?
I’m not surprised.
There’s a real enemy bent on taking you down.
You’re the image bearer of God. And the enemy can’t touch God, so he’ll try to get his hands on the next best thing. And that’s you.
It’s probably easier to shy away from discussing spiritual warfare because that way I can tie up my faith with a nice little bow that reads whatever’s meant to be will be.
Except I just don’t buy that.
I may not know how to adequately clean up the differences between the enemy and sin and flesh and free will and broken byproducts of life on this earth.
But I can’t pretend the enemy doesn’t exist.
If I sound angry, I suppose I am. It’s been a week of war.
I’d like to blame it on our frozen sewer lines or the dripping shower that’s awaiting our plumber, but it’s much bigger than that.
It’s intimidation tactics, havoc, pain, loss, and lies used to distract, attack, and break us away from Jesus.
If you believe in God, you will eventually have to decide whether God is good or bent on torturing us with this often miserable existence. And if God is good, then there’s something else here causing darkness. And if that, then you will have to grapple with that darkness as you walk out life on this earth.
Darkness that comes with holding a friend who grieves the death of her precious daughter.
Darkness breeding broken marriages, and diseased children, and infertility.
Darkness threatening those left behind after traumatically losing a dear one.
Darkness warring on our hearts and minds, lying about our worth and security, always lying about God.
Darkness that produces fractured friendships, and abusive relationships, and wayward loved ones.
Darkness in the form of famine, and persecution, and violence.
Darkness from isolation, and rejection, and loneliness.
Darkness that wants to swallow me whole as I watch my own mom battle a crippling disease.
We so badly want to file pain away in a sterile, organized way, so that we can shake the dust off and carry on with a trite faith.
We do this when we passively recite the idea that, I guess, it was all supposed to be this way, grasping for some sort of false comfort in this broken world.
Sure, we can’t properly explain how sin, flesh, brokenness, and the enemy work together or differently in this life.
But every time we skirt over acknowledging there’s an enemy looking to destroy us, we give the devil a foothold. Pretending he is not scheming is a surefire way to fall prey to the scheme.
Do we really tell wrecked souls suffering under the weight of darkness that it was always supposed to be this way?
No, we tell them there’s a battle raging.
We tell them the Truth.
We tell them this battle is not against flesh and blood. That it’s so much more than what they see. It’s against the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world. It’s against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. [Ephesians 6:12 (NIV).]
We tell them we have an enemy prowling around like a roaring lion. [1 Peter 5:8 (NIV).]
That He is looking for someone to devour. [1 Peter 5:8 (NIV).]
We tell them the devil’s trap is a real thing. [See 1 Timothy 2:26, 3:7 (NIV).]
That he is the father of lies. [John 8:44 (NIV).]
We tell them that enemy is a thief. That he came to steal, kill, and destroy all that God has for them. [John 10:10 (NIV).]
We tell them not to be surprised when he attacks because they’re made in God’s image. [See Genesis 1:27 (NIV).]
We tell them he’ll probably look different than they expect; he masquerades as an angel of light. [2 Corinthians 11:14 (NIV).]
But you can’t stop here.
You have to keep going.
You have to tell them the rest.
You have to tell them they are not helpless pogs in this miserable game of existence.
You have to tell them Jesus Christ came so they could have life and have it to the full. [John 10:10 (NIV).]
You have to remind them when things go sideways, that God is still forever in control. [Psalm 103:19 (NIV).]
That there is power in the Name of Jesus. [See Acts 3:16 (NIV).] That prayer is their powerful army. [See James 5:16 (NIV).]
That they are equipped for battle. That the full armor of God stands against the devil’s schemes. [Ephesians 6:11 (NIV).]
That one of the most powerful tools against the devil is Scripture. [See Matthew 4:1-11 (NIV).]
That when they resist, the enemy flees. [See James 4:7 (NIV); 1 Peter 5:9 (NIV).]
Remind them they are not passive victims. That they were intentionally created for God’s purpose and glory. [Ephesians 2:10 (NIV).]
That they are dearly loved. [Ephesians 5:1 (NIV); Colossians 3:12 (NIV).]
That even amid a series of battles that are part of life on this earth, the war has been finished, won, and sealed forever. [John 19:30 (NIV).]
That none of this. None of this trouble, this hardship, this persecution, this famine, this nakedness, this danger, this sword. None of it.
Not death, not life, not angels, not demons, not time, not power, not highs, not lows. That nothing transpiring in this weighty life can change or stop or lessen or weaken or manipulate the love God extended to them in Christ Jesus.
That they have that Love all over them. [Romans 8:35, 38-39 (NIV).]
Tell them not to be afraid because the voice of the Shepherd is clear and distinct. That the voice of the Shepherd is consistent with His character. [John 10:4 (NIV); Hebrews 13:8 (NIV).]
Remind them they CONQUER in Christ Jesus. And that for every inch of weakness, there are miles of grace. [Romans 8:37 (NIV); 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV).]
Tell them the Light shines in their darkness, and their darkness has not overcome Him. Tell them to shine that Light. [John 1:5 (NIV).]
Tell them that Peace is here. It’s here right now and available to them in this moment. That they can have this Peace for today and for tomorrow and forever. That this Peace does not make sense because in this world they will have trouble.
And at the same time, this Peace makes perfect sense because Christ has overcome this world. [John 16:33 (NIV).]
Tell them these trials may not have been meant to be, but they are not useless and worthless and hopeless. That in a way beyond us, God strangely and mysteriously uses these trials to better their faith. 1 Peter 1:6,7 (NIV).]
Tell them greater is He that is in them. Greater is HE. Greater. Far greater than he that is in the world. [1 John 4:4 (NIV).]
Remind them that in all things, in all of these senseless, grueling, brutal, and hopeless, and murky things of life, our God will mysteriously work good for them and glory for Himself. [Romans 8:28 (NIV).]
Tell them to hang their hat on this verse because they won’t survive without it. [Romans 8:28 (NIV).]
Yes, this is the mystery of our ineffable and good God.
That the life God originally had for every one of us went sideways. That He loved us enough to give us free will and choices. That sin and spiritual warfare and free will and brokenness and flesh and loss have marred this earth and threaten to blind us from experiencing the fullness of God.
That this world is completely out of order, drowning in tears and choking on cries for something more.
Then tell them there is more.
Tell them that there is so much more beyond the material elements and ugly and confusing facts handed to them.
That because our most gracious God loved us more than He loved Himself, we are not consumed.
Tell them because of the grace and power of our Lord Jesus Christ, our God somehow makes right out of facts gone wrong.
What do you tell wrecked souls suffering under the weight of darkness?
You grab their face in your hands and you pull them close.
You whisper that this was not how it was supposed to be.
And then you whisper that this is not all there is.