PREPARATION FOR THE SPIRITUAL BATTLE
How do we prepare for the battle we don’t know is coming? How do we know what to expect in the midst of suffering? What are we to do when suffering hits, and Satan tempts us to give up or be angry? We have established in this series that God is sovereign and good. I’ve had the opportunity to preach this to myself recently. About three weeks ago, my husband had a major heart attack. Once again, suffering is brought into my life as I’m teaching and writing about the subject. When it happened, it was like the phone call that changes your life in an instant. My life was changed and everything was put on hold. This part three had to wait for four weeks to be written, but I’m glad for it. The whole armor of God is our preparation as we realize we have it and need to rely on the strength it provides.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11
- Our strength comes from the Lord’s might!
We are not invincible! We are not superhuman! The truth is, we are frail individuals who need direction and strength from our creator. This is not something we always agree with because, “hey, I got this!” As I watched my husband struggling with the pain of a heart attack, I felt strong. This was not my strength, but God’s. I knew it was bad but I could actually feel the Lord’s presence as I called 911. The strength of the Lord was with me at this desperate time. Now, as I look back, I recognize it. There were times in the days ahead when I had to remind myself of his strength in order to move forward. We never learn to the point of completion while on this earth. This was obvious to me in the days ahead.
“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6:14-15
- Our stand is in the truth and righteousness of the gospel!
Standing, for a long period of time, can be difficult. We begin to look for a chair in which we can sit. We want relief for our legs and feet as they have been in one place too long. When suffering comes, we are called to stand in the midst of it, even when it’s long and hard. This standing has a firm foundation: the gospel. As followers of Christ we have the righteousness of Christ to help us to stand when we really want to fall down. When my husband was in the hospital, there was one night in which I spent a few hours in prayer and praise to the Lord. It was in the middle of the night and I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to stand so I sought the Lord in prayer. He led me to the Psalms where I spent time reading. It was just what I needed. God never leaves us to stand alone. He gives us his truth and his righteousness to stand on!
“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” Ephesians 16-18a
- Our hope is in the Word of God and God, Himself.
So many times we think like the world thinks in that we wish and hope for what we want or think is best. When it doesn’t happen we respond in disappointment, anger, or sadness. The truth is our hope needs to be in God himself. To know how much we can be confident in our hope in him, we must seek to find out more about him from his word. It was so tempting in the hospital to put my hope in the doctors or the nurses or the medicine. So much is happening so fast with medical issues that our focus can be on those in front of us. It was easy to forget the bigger picture. But God reminded me to hope in him alone when there was an emergency procedure taking place on my husband’s heart. It was a whirlwind of activity in the room but God gave me peace in himself. I had to acknowledge him, placing all my hope and trust in his care of my husband. He is the hope in all circumstances on which we can depend.
As followers of Christ, we have the armor of God. We have to utilize what we’ve been given. We have been given all we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) Our problem is we allow our suffering to overshadow what we’ve been given. The suffering becomes greater than the armor of God. There is a spiritual battle we face each day. Satan wants to use our suffering to tempt us away from the Lord. Don’t let him do that! Remember you have the armor and God! Satan doesn’t have a hold on you, God does!