Something is definitely up.
It feels as if every day lately, I learn of yet another comrade in Christ combating something major – all-consuming struggles with health, marriage, faith, finances, parenting, personal tragedy, addiction, family discord, church leadership, direction, unity, spiritual attacks, spiritual apathy, or any combination of the above. No one is unsusceptible.
“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)
The bible doesn’t sugarcoat. It says opposition, temptation and suffering can’t be avoided. Indeed, it’s hard to ignore the recent surge in troubles and hardships among the body of Christ, striking new and old believers, Sunday and holiday churchgoers, the faithful and bold, and the lukewarm alike. Meanwhile, the world grows ever colder to Jesus and more and more suspicious of “the Church.” Of course, it’s hard to consider our trials to be “struggles” at all, in the face of the rampant and escalating terrorizing, persecution and execution of Christians around the world.
But persecution is upon everyone who believes Jesus is who He says He is and did what the bible says He did and who lives accordingly. And underlying all the visible, tangible forms of persecution is invisible but heavy spiritual warfare. As Priscilla Shirer points out in The Armor of God, whether or not we believers choose to engage, war is upon us.
Just remember this: We have but one Enemy.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
In other words, people are not your problem. Your “selfish” husband, your “rebellious” children, your “difficult” in-laws, your “impossible” boss or co-workers, your hurtful frenemies, even the man or woman in the mirror, are NOT the enemy.
Satan is cunning. He gets away with murder while using circumstances and people (you included) like pawns to distract you from your real enemy: him. Or worse, he deceives you into thinking God doesn’t have your best interest at heart, God’s malicious and overbearing, God makes all your choices for you and then turns a blind eye when you suffer the consequences of your choices (or those of others). On the contrary, God’s done everything in heaven and on earth to reach out and shake His love in our faces, to prove He cares for us so, even to the point of death, death on a cross. But we have to reach out and grab hold of that love.
Ironically, our enemy is both the Deceiver and the Accuser. The one who causes us to doubt, blame, question, drift and rebel against our Maker, Savior and Counselor; who causes friction between us and the people and world around us; who leads us astray in the first place and then makes us feel bad about ourselves afterwards. Don’t be fooled, friends. Every move Satan makes, he makes to cloud our vision and separate us from the love of God.
But God’s love is eternal, steadfast and unconditional. God’s love saves, not destroys. God’s love unites, not divides. God’s love is everything Satan’s false security is not.
So, back to the state of things. What is happening?? Why do bad things keep happening to God’s people?
I can’t say for sure. BUT. I wonder if the Enemy senses the Day of the Lord drawing near, too close for (his) comfort. Of course, none of us knows when Jesus is coming back. But we do know that when He does, all doubt, all question, all argument shall cease. And “every knee shall bow” and “every tongue confess” that “Jesus Christ is Lord.” (Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:9-11)
No doubt, it will be the singularly most awesome, glorious, overwhelming sight the world has ever beheld. And at the same time, it will be the absolute worst nightmare come true for the devil. He knows it too.
Could it be, friends, that Satan is panicking? That he’s in full-on, frenzied PANIC MODE? That he’s scrambling to try to bring us down, the Lord’s army? Even though he doesn’t stand a chance ’cause we’re armed with the all-powerful Holy Spirit within us? Even though he knows what God’s Word promises about his end? In total denial of his coming reckoning?
We are a threat, guys. Did you hear that?? WE are a THREAT . . . to the devil!!
If he’s trying his damnedest to make life hard, seemingly “senselessly” so, for us and our loved ones, maybe we should be taking it as the biggest compliment. He sees us as a problem, a formidable rival. If he didn’t, maybe we’d be coasting by in this life. But no, he knows who’s onto him, who’s sealed with the Holy Spirit, who can and will call upon Jesus’ name against him. He knows we’re winners and God can use us to encourage and lead others to stand for Jesus too. Poor devil. We’re driving him mad!
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:2-5)
Lastly, if God in His sovereignty is allowing such attacks, it’s ’cause “God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful” (I Corinthians 1:9) and “if all this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.” (2 Peter 2:9)
So let us
“be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood… Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:10-13)
Stand, brothers and sisters. Stand with the One who gives you strength and refuge.
“I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”