Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Life is war
Do you ever feel like your life is pointless, that you are weak and useless, that your existence in general is a string of dull and tedious nothings? Sometimes it is good to remember we're in a war, and that while things seem quiet and peaceful, the Enemy may come at any moment and surprise us, hoping to ambush us or break through the defenses. Not that war is all that exciting at every moment, I think I once read somewhere that it is, 'long stretches of tedium interrupted by periods of sheer terror.' Whether languishing in the trenches of the first World War or slogging through the endless swamps of Vietnam or sweltering in a desert somewhere, soldiers of every age have never had an easy time of it, but the next time you think about being 'bored,' just remember what you're fighting against:
"And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him...Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
Not that we wrestle against such things physically or even on a level we are much aware. For there are mightier warriors than we mere mortals of flesh and blood, and they fight on a level we cannot comprehend, as hinted at in this passage from Daniel:
"And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.”
This mighty angelic warrior was delayed in delivering his message to Daniel because of this dreadful Prince of Persia, whom he could not counter without the help of one of the greatest angels known to mankind. If such great and mighty beings cannot overcome such evil, what hope have we, fickle and fallible creatures of flesh and blood that we are? Paul gives us some idea of this struggle in his letter to the Ephesians:
"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. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."
Wow! But how do we fight against THAT? He continues:
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 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. 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 the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints."
It isn't with swords or bows, guns or knives, bombs or even our fists with which we are called to fight, a strange thought to our violence obsessed culture. Rather prayer, God's word, and a virtuous life are our only weapons and protection, for the fight is not ours, but the Lord's. We who have no power or strength or virtue in ourselves, can be competent and valiant soldiers in this war from beyond the reach of time that has spilled over into our own reality. So the next time you are tempted to be bored silly with your dull and tedious existence, remember, you're at war, a soldier manning the walls of some remote outpost, with the enemy snarling and hissing beneath you, looking for a breach in the defenses, a weak point by which to invade. We don't need a video game to feel like we live in a war zone, it's in our own backyard, our living rooms and cubicles, but do we ignore it and pretend it isn't there and hope it just goes away, do we allow ourselves to be conquered and live as prisoners and slaves of that grim dragon, or do we stay at our posts and fight the fight set before us with all faith and confidence in the One who has thrown down the dragon and waits only until the time is right to vanquish it forever?