“The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.” – Deuteronomy 28:7 (NIV)
I hope today that you are facing opposition. I hope you are in the midst of some trial or working through an uncomfortable situation. And, moreover, I hope you are staying connected to God through it all.
Now, you might be thinking, “Wow… gee thanks. That was real inspiring!” I know it sounds awful to say “I hope you are facing some issues.” And, truly, I wish none of us had to face troubles or trials or hardship or pain of any kind. But, one of the great truths of this life is just as Jesus put it: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b, NIV).
As we well know, life is not easy. We face temptations, trials and turbulence at various points in life. And for good reasons.
Consider this: you are alone at a cabin in the woods. Two men break into your cabin. One looks like he could do you some harm. He’s mean, menacing, armed, big and bold. This guy is bad news.
The other guy is… well… he’s there. He’s leaned against the door. He’s a skinny guy, totally oblivious to the evil intent of his cohort. He’s got his smart phone out, texting to his friends and Tweeting. He’s even snapped a photo of his partner ransacking your belongings, with the caption “LOL.” He’s no threat. In fact, you’re not really sure why he’s even there.
Which one of these guys is the real threat?
Now, flip this scenario around. The devil, the prince of this world (John 14:30), is seated comfortably in the midst of his kingdom. Two Christians show up. One looks like he could do the devil some harm. He has “put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Galatians 6:11, NIV). He recognizes his enemy, and that his battle “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” (Galatians 6:12, NIV). He’s not perfect, but he’s faithful, prepared and bold.
The other guy is… well… he’s there. He’s leaned against the door. He’s a skinny guy, totally oblivious to the evil intent of his enemy. He’s got his smart phone out, texting to his friends and Tweeting. He’s even snapped a photo of his partner, standing strong in his faith in Christ, with the caption “LOL.” He’s no threat. In fact, you’re not really sure why he’s even there.
Which one of these guys is the real threat? And who is our adversary going to pursue? Surely not the guy with the cell phone. Satan is going to set his sights on the one who can do him harm.
If anyone knows this, it is the apostle Peter. From the moment Jesus declared Simon to be Cephas (or Peter), the rock upon which Christ would build His house (the church), the disciple had a humongous target on his chest. Peter knew all too well what he was talking about when he wrote, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” But, it’s not fair to simply look at this one line. This is actually good news!
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 5:6-11 (NIV)
I do not truly wish upon anybody any sort of trouble. But the simple truth is, if you are the least bit effective for the kingdom of heaven, the prince of this world is not going to be happy. If you are facing absolutely no opposition, you may want to rethink your life strategy. (By the way, if you are, in fact, sailing smoothly through life, do not be lulled into the false belief that this will always be your lot.)
Be bold. Be faithful. Rise up in the power and authority of Jesus Christ. Proclaim His majesty! Do the good work put before you. Rest in faith, knowing the battle is not yours, but God’s.
And the enemy, the devil, is a defeated foe.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. – James 1:2-8 (NIV)
Stay strong. Trust God, for He alone is your source. Expect opposition to rise. But know that it is only for a season, and that the LORD has won the battle – and the war. After all, Jesus is truly the One Who has Risen!