There are seasons when things go so, so wrong. There are times when tragedy triumphs. There are periods when evil seems to prevail. In these moments, there are tears. There are doubts. There is anger. There is confusion.
When we are in these situations, sometimes we can lose sight of God. It is a time when faith can be fragile, and fear seems ferocious.
I pray that the following few thoughts offer some help for the battle.
1. Don’t forget the devil
1 Peter 5:8: Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Perhaps there are some Christians who focus too much on the devil and demons. However, for the majority of western Christians, I think we fall into the other extreme. We underestimate the devil. We perhaps don’t even give him a thought. We assume he is not bothered about us. Hear the words of scripture. The enemy is real. The enemy is dangerous.
2. Jesus is greater
This is not glib triumphalism. It is reality. Right now, it might not look like Jesus is greater. At times it can look like all hell has broken loose. That must have been how it looked when Stephen was stoned to death in the 1st century. How could this happen? Jesus had risen. The Spirit had come. The apostles were performing mighty miracles. How could God allow this to happen to Stephen. The man of God is dead, where is the God of the man? Where is his protection now? Where is his miracle working power? Why does it look like darkness has the upper hand?
And the truth is we don’t know – ultimately. We know that God is sovereign, we know that he works his purposes out even in the midst of gross darkness, evil and pain. It might not feel like it, but Jesus is still on the throne.
Acts 10: 38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
Jesus was greater than Satan when he walked the earth, and Jesus is greater than Satan now that he has died, risen and is reigning at the right hand of God. The words of an old song say,
The power of darkness comes in like a flood
The battle belongs to the Lord
He’s raised up a standard, the power of His blood
The battle belongs to the Lord
Again, this isn’t triumphalism – it is a deep reality that the only help we have in the midst of spiritual darkness is Jesus. And Jesus is the name above every other name.
3. Pray, Pray, Pray.
Another hymn says, “Satan trembles when he sees, the weakest saint upon his/her knees.”. Are we tempted? Pray. Are we in despair? Pray. Are we angry at God? Pray. It needn’t be religious – it’s better if it isn’t. Shout if you need to. Now is not the time for middle-class politeness – now is the time for gut-wrenching crying out to God.
I waited for the Lord my God
And patiently did bear
At length to me He did incline
My voice and cry to hear
He took me from a fearful pit
And from the miry clay
And on a rock He set my feet
Establishing my way
4. Never give up
Don’t throw in the towel. Don’t walk away from God. Don’t leave the church. This is exactly what the enemy wants. It might be hard. It might seem impossible but keep holding on. We need to balance the truth that God preserves his people with the truth that we are called to persevere.
Hebrews 12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
God Disciplines His Children
4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,”[b] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
This is a broken-messed up world. In the words of the Verve, life is a bitter-sweet symphony. The middle-class, western, selfie-oriented image of life being a never-ending party is phony. Tozer said ‘The world is not a playground, it’s a battle ground’. As Christians we have real hope, but it’s a hope that rises in the midst of blood, tears and death. There is a day coming when God will wipe away every tear and death will be no more, until then we fight. We might stagger and fall but arise and fight we must because the Kingdom of God is calling.