THE SPIRITUAL BATTLE -SUFFERING AND SATAN’S DEVICES – Part one

Suffering is part of the life of everyone who breathes on this earth.  It doesn’t matter whether you are a believer or not; we all suffer.  Our suffering can be in the areas of relationships, health, sin, or the results of a natural disaster.  We can suffer emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. The suffering we face can be a primetime for Satan to tempt us.  We must be aware of this by knowing the reasons why this is so.  In this blog series, let’s look at suffering, Satan, preparation for battle, and the knowledge of God. We will begin with the reasons our suffering is a great time for Satan to target us.

  1.  Suffering brings about fragility. 

If you’re like me, you never want to be thought of as fragile.  We consider being fragile a negative trait. Let’s think of being fragile as a result of how we are in the midst of suffering.  We may be physically worn down, mentally not sharp, or emotionally spent!  Suffering causes us to realize that we are not as strong as we thought we were.  We need someone greater than us to help us through our struggles. We need Jesus Christ.  “But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” 2 Corinthians 12:9a  This verse reminds us that, in our weakness, God will give us grace and his power takes over.  This is what we need but this is not always where we turn.

In our fragility we are prime targets for temptation.  We are weak and so we listen to intrusive thoughts which tempt us to turn from God.  In this state, during suffering, we may decide that God is responsible for our suffering.  Once that happens we tend to look elsewhere for help in our fragility.  Satan is very aware of our suffering and how we are handling it.  He comes at us with lies about God.  This is a number one device of his.  He has used it from the beginning when he said to Eve, “Did God really say?…” Genesis 3:1  When we are weak, we are more prone to listen to the thought that God is not really who he says he is. We must choose to believe who God is and of our need for him when we are fragile.  We need him when we suffer.

  • Suffering brings a desire to escape.

I’m fairly certain no one likes to suffer.  As the scripture reminds us, we love ourselves naturally.  This causes us to want relief from any suffering we may go through during our lifetime.  We want to escape it.  We want it to be over. This is really a normal human reaction to suffering.  The problem with this thinking is that it can become the goal.  We have to remember our goal needs to please God in whatever we go through or whatever we do.  (2 Corinthians 5:9)  If we make our goal escape or relief, then we are very open to temptations from Satan.

What happens is that we consider things like “if I do this or that”, or “maybe I’ll just give up”, or “life isn’t fair so I’m out of here”.  These thoughts do not chase after the goal of pleasing God.  In fact, these thoughts are more in line with erasing God from the equation.  When we do that then we are in a dangerous position. We are actually more vulnerable to Satan’s attempt to make God less than who he is. 

Suffering is hard! No one likes it!  We have to be prepared to go through suffering with the goal of pleasing God firmly planted in our minds. This doesn’t mean we don’t feel the suffering, but it does mean that, in the midst of it, we trust God.  He is the only one who can get us through whatever challenges we face.  Let’s ask ourselves these questions when we are tempted to give in because we are fragile and want it to end.

  1.  What do I know to be true about God right now? Spend some time thinking about God’s character and take time to write it down.  Apply his character to your situation.
  2. What do I remember about God’s work in my life?  If you’ve lived more than 5 years, you can look back and see how God has worked in your life.  In this remembrance, you’ll find hope.  He is the same God!
  3. How can I please God in the midst of this suffering?  Answering the first two questions is actually part of the answer for this question.  But, you need to go farther and realize what it would look like for you trust God wherever you find yourself. 

 “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.”             2 Corinthians 5:9

AIMLESS…GIVE ME COFFEE

What does it mean to be aimless?  Well, it all starts with a target.  If you are shooting arrows, you AIM to hit the middle of the target or the bullseye.  The same is true if you are shooting a gun.  Aimless comes in when there’s no target.  There are days when I can’t seem to get a grip on what the target is or where it’s located.  I can walk around in circles and sigh as I seek to find a target worthy of my time and energy.  In general, I’m a person who plans and prepares for things in the future; but on aimless days I just look for coffee.  Coffee becomes the target of my aimless ramble.  But what good does that do me, you ask?  Believe me, I don’t really have an answer about the good it does, but it certainly gives me a boost in my rambling.  

What gives me the boost of energy to ramble aimlessly?  Let’s talk about the smell of coffee.  Even before you bring that relaxing and enjoyable cup of  coffee to your lips, your nose is already enjoying it.  Others enjoy it too as they smell it in your home or office.  The smell can cause your eyes to close and your whole body to relax.  Even though the smell is great, let’s not forget the taste.  Pumpkin spice is what tickles my taste buds in the Fall.  It’s just the right combination to bring pleasure to my mouth.  Then, there’s the smile.  Yes, coffee gives me the ability to smile as I’m aimless.  As I think of it, there’s a bullseye of smell and taste.  The coffee has hit that bullseye for me.  The problem?  After about 30 minutes, I’m aimless again.  You see, the coffee is only a temporary boost to the problem.  I need a permanent solution to being aimless.

The world offers many solutions to being aimless.  If you look on the internet for organizational help, you’ll find many advertisements of those who would want to take your money to give you an aim for your life.  Remember, their aim is your money!  If you write the check or swipe the card, you’ve helped them meet their aim.  Money can disappear quickly just like my coffee.  So money can’t be our aim in life.  What is an aim in life that will never disappoint and will never end? 

“So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.”   2 Corinthians 5:9

What is Paul talking about here?  He’s telling us as followers of Christ our aim, every day and in every way, should be to please God.  This aim doesn’t disappoint or fade away.  This aim has eternal life attached to it.  The act of pleasing God is the bullseye on which is written, “well done good and faithful servant.”  Life is hard and sometimes feels like it’s totally aimless, but in those moments we still have a bullseye.  How can we please God when we feel aimless and have already had our coffee? 

  1.  We can pray for God’s direction in our lives and seek his wisdom.  Paul writes to the people in Colossae, “…we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”  Colossians 1:9-10
  2. We can look for someone to love either by praying or contacting her.  Paul writes to the church at Philippi, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interest of others.”       Philippians 2:3-4

When we are aimless, we have a tendency to think of ourselves.  We can focus on what we lack rather than on our gains.  The idea of stopping our rambling and replacing it with thoughts of God and others will give us an aim.   This aim is pleasing to God.  The truth is we are never aimless, there’s always a choice to choose the aim.

So in conclusion, enjoy your coffee but remember there’s a more important bullseye to hit.