Do you ever looked around your life and the lives of those you love and just get tired? Tired of all the hurt, the pain, the struggle? Tired of all the gossip and small fights and irritations? Tired of trying to serve God and follow him yet stumbling every step?
Yeah, I have my hand raised, even if I'm the only one.
This past week, though, God has been impressing something on my heart.
All these things in life that feel so frustrating and tend to bog me down are not the problems. I tend to tackle them trying to fix them, but I'm realizing they are just symptoms of something much bigger and much deeper.
And treating the symptom is like popping some pain killers and putting a Band-aid over a festering, infected wound. You might kill the pain and stop the bleeding for a moment, but until you uncover the real problem and treat THAT, you will never win.
Marriages are struggling, Faith is wavering, Physical and mental pain is crushing. People are being held in bondage by their past and not able to live in God's fullness. Financial ruin is real and trusting God with money you don't even have seems impossible. As I think about these things, there is a deep awareness of war.
Not man against man, because that is another symptom.
No, it's a spiritual war and the prize to the victor is the souls of man.
As I pray, there is a very real sense of a battle going on. I know there is ALWAYS a battle, but life and war ebbs and flows, and right now the guns are blazing and the swords are clashing with a feverish pace and heart-wrenching results.
What we see with our eyes are the results of that war.
Marriages lie in ruin in defeat. Faith is discarded as the devil cheers. Children are starving, both for food and for love, as demons dance. It is so easy to see these sickening victories as we look at destruction, both on a big scale like sex trafficking and homelessness, and on a more personal scale like divorce and bankruptcy.
Yet I know we serve a God who WINS. A God who is the ultimate leader into battle. I also see victories daily when marriages are restored, someone gives their lives to God, and a host of other victorious wins.
But these things we struggle with in the mean time? Feelings that make no sense, that we don't want to feel? I know for me personally, I've been going through a time when things easily irritate me, even when I have no desire for them to. When I don't show the love I long to give. When I yell when I should be whispering. When I cry instead of laugh. When I tear down instead of lift up. Those are all symptoms of the battle going on around.
I feel God calling me to stop focusing on those little things, and to recognize the greater war being waged.
It's a war for the souls of man. A war of good verses evil. And it's a war that we've been called to fight with LOVE, not with hatred. With PEACE, not with weapons of meanness. With GOD, not selfish desires.
I'm so glad I'm not fighting alone. I'm SO glad I have my family, my friends, and YOU to fight along side me. And I'm so glad I serve a God who is VICTORIOUS and who equips and leads His people with his steady, unfailing love.
So I encourage you, the next time you get overwhelmed with life and the problems that seem so steep, step back and recognize the symptoms of battle. Take up you armor of God, choose LOVE and FORGIVENESS, both things the devil HATES, and press on in battle, knowing that victory is GODS!
Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.