Overwhelmed. Outnumbered. Stressed. When looking at situations we face, it doesn’t take much for these feelings to pop up and dominate our thoughts. When we feel this way, we tend to have tunnel vision. We concentrate on the issue at hand and lose track of other things that are going on. Fear and worry use it as an opportunity to move into our thoughts. All the what if’s begin to pop up, and we forget who truly is in control. That’s why it’s good to have a godly friend you can reach out to when you go into this tailspin. They can encourage you, pray for you and help you get your mind right. They help put things back in perspective.
In 2 Chronicles 32, the Assyrian army was destroying everyone in their path. Jerusalem was on their hit list and they were coming for it. King Hezekiah shored up the city’s water supply by building an underground tunnel to channel water in. He built up their defenses and then gathered every man in the city in front of the city gate. The men were overwhelmed, outnumbered and stressed. They knew they were going to be defeated. The king gathered them in order to encourage them and help them get their minds right. All they could focus on was the impending doom on its way. Worry and fear had taken over.
Then in verses 7-8, the king said, “‘Be determined and confident, and don’t be afraid of the Assyrian emperor or of the army he is leading. We have more power on our side than he has on his. He has human power, but we have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.’ The people were encouraged by these words of their king” (GNT). You may need to read that last statement of his again. You have more power on your side than the situation you’re facing has on its. You have the power, protection and promises of God on your side. You don’t fight your battles alone, and He who is in you is greater than he who is against you (1John 4:4). Be encouraged today, pray and get your mind focused on God. You can pull out of the self destructive tail spin and be victorious no matter what you’re facing.
I was in high school during the Gulf War. I remember getting to see the first videos of the war starting. Our initial offensive was called “Shock and Awe”. It was a way to use overwhelming force and incredible uses of power to dominate the enemy, to destroy their will to fight and to change their perception of what the battlefield was. This tactic works very well especially when combined with the element of surprise. It’s no wonder our spiritual enemy uses this tactic against us. How many times have you been hit out of the blue with continuous bad news?
The enemy of our soul hopes to paralyze us using shock and awe tactics. That’s why we always need to be prepared so we can respond the way Job did when Shock and Awe was used against him. In Ephesians 6, we read about the armor God has given us to withstand these attacks. Verse 13 says, “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet” (MSG).
Because the enemy attacks us this way, the first piece of armor mentioned that God gives us is the Belt of Truth. We need to know the truth of who we are in Christ so we aren’t paralyzed by fear. Next is the Breastplate of Righteousness that covers our heart. We have to protect our heart because it gives us the will to fight. We are then given footwear to remind us to keep moving. We can’t stay still in this battle. Our Shield Of Faith helps protect us from all the things the enemy throws at us by keeping our trust in God. The Helmet of Salvation ensures we have a sound mind. The Sword of the Spirit puts us on the offensive using God’s Word. Finally, we can’t forget to pray. It keeps our focus on God, gives us to will to fight and keeps the battlefield in perspective. Using these, you can withstand the enemy’s Shock and Awe.
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
When I was around 16 years old, I had invited a kid I barely knew over to hang out for the day. My parents were gone, but had the foresight to have a family friend stay with us. We were in my room playing video games when his eyes rolled into the back of his head and they came back down looking different. He looked at me and said, “Fight me!” I wasn’t sure what he meant, but I knew if we got into an altercation, I wasn’t going to make it. I responded in a whisper that I wouldn’t fight him. He got angry and began repeatedly asking me to fight him. Our family friend sensed something, opened the door, noticed I was upset and got me out of the room. I began praying for about 15 minutes while I was locked in the bathroom. When I came back out, he had changed back to normal.
Spiritual battles present themselves in the physical realm all the time. In 1 Samuel 17, Goliath was dressed for battle and called out to the Israelites to come fight him. They were terrified. How could anyone beat such a man? Saul offered money, his daughter, no taxes and more, but no one was willing to fight Goliath until David came around. He recognized it as a spiritual battle immediately. They tried to dress him up in Saul’s armor, give him a sword and instructions, but David knew better. In verses 45 and 47 David called out to Goliath, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted…And that this entire assembly may know that the LORD does not save with the sword or with the spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will hand you over to us” (AMP). David won the physical battle because he had won the spiritual battle first.
In your life, there may appear to be people who are attacking you, your character, your work, your calling or something else. Understand that it is more than likely a spiritual attack to produce fear, anger or doubt in you. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.” If you fight a spiritual battle in the physical, you will lose the battle that matters. Spend time in prayer, put on the full armor of God and fight on your knees praying against the spirit that is guiding the other person. The enemy will use whomever he can to immobilize you and to keep you from living the life God created you to live. Stay strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
One of the things I love about sports is the struggle. In each game, the teams are trying to build up momentum to score and keep things moving in their favor. You can almost always see when something happens that either takes momentum away from a team or gives it to a team. The fight is not just about winning. It’s about getting momentum to keep winning. There are some teams, despite not having much momentum, that somehow will their way to victory against the odds. There’s something in them that won’t let them quit and they push through to win. Those are the games you walk away from wondering how they did it.
In life, all of us face battles. All of us go through struggles. Inside each one of us there is a constant battle between our flesh and our spirit. There’s the struggle between doing what’s right and what we want to do. There are also battles with addiction that many of us go through. In each case, we’re looking for momentum and victory. If we’re honest, there are days where we know we want to win, but we just don’t have the strength to push through. Momentum often feels like it’s against us and it’s easier to just give in. On those days, we have to learn to psych ourselves up, put our rally cap on and find a way to push through.
Psalm 44:5 says, “Through your glorious name and your awesome power we can push through to any victory and defeat every enemy” (TPT). We have victory in the name of Jesus, but you and I still have to show up and fight. David didn’t defeat Goliath because he picked up five stones and stood on the battlefield. He won it because he ran towards his enemy and slung the stone. You and I must face our giants head on and attack them through the name of Jesus. Victory is possible. You can defeat your adversary, but you have to fight. God is for you and has given you the weapons and armor you need to win. You’ve got to put them on, use them and push through in the name of Jesus and you will find victory.
The phrase, “Stay the course,” has been used by military commanders to muster their army in the face of obstacles. It is meant to give them courage to keep going and to keep pursuing victory no matter how the battle appears at that moment. Rarely is any victory won without several twists and turns with ups and downs. If warriors quit at the first sign of struggle, they could never win a battle. They must learn to persevere and push forward with their eye on the prize while listening to their commander’s orders. Staying the course is often difficult, but a necessary step in achieving victory.
When you accept Jesus, you are put on course for Heaven. There will be many ups and downs, as well as battles. The road to victory is not easy, but we must persevere. There have been times when I’ve felt like giving up and accepting defeat. There have been times where I’ve been pushed backwards as well, but I’ve had to remind myself to stay the course, fight the battles and keep moving. There’s a reason that Paul told us to take up the full armor of God. We need it because we are pressed on every side in the midst of a lifelong battle to pursue all that God has for us.
Hebrews 6:12 encourages us, “Don’t drag your feet. Be like those who stay the course with committed faith and then get everything promised to them” (MSG). If you and I will keep persevering, keep fighting and keep moving towards victory, we will get all that God has for us. Remember that greater is He that is in you than he that is against you. Now is not the time to stop and rest. Now is not the time to accept defeat. Now is the time to pick up your feet, to stay the course you were given and to fight until victory is won.