Who’s Fighting for You?

July 3, 2017. It’s a beautiful, sunny day in mid-Missouri, but I woke up today feeling sad and heavy-hearted, a frequent occurrence of late. After a long season of peace, I have found myself being led back down into a darker valley in recent months, a season of more trying times.

If you haven’t yet experienced a real season of pain or difficulty, you will. Life this side of heaven is full of hard times; financial woes, health scares, relational pain…lots of relational pain. Having spoken to hundreds of women going through divorce, I often hear the all-too-common question: “If God loves me, why is He letting this happen?”

The War RoomAlong with several close friends and my family, I recently watched the movie War Room, a faith-based story of an older woman leading a younger woman to an active life of faith through prayer. The undergirding message of the story is that when hard things come, we need to remember who our real enemy is. (Spoiler Alert: It’s the Prince of Darkness himself.) In the film, the older woman, Clara (Karen Abercrombie), tries to convince her new, much-younger friend Elizabeth (Priscilla Shirer) that her primary job is to fight against the real enemy, not the flesh-and-blood people in her life who are causing her pain. Appearances are deceiving; Elizabeth thinks she is engaged in a battle with her husband, when in fact she is attempting to take on Satan empty-handed; her too-busy life is entirely devoid of Bible-reading and prayer.

And the news gets worse; Clara informs her friend that she is absolutely no match for the enemy and must – absolutely must – call upon God to do precisely what God does, namely deliver His people from bondage (Deuteronomy 20:4). The only way she can win is to submit her entire life to the Lord, go to Him in prayer and ask Him to fight on her behalf.

I’ve watched this film twice. Both times, I found myself very sympathetic toward the character of Elizabeth, whose husband is, after all, engaged in all sorts of naughty behavior. The greatest temptation in times of trial is to focus one’s full attention on the “antagonist” who is right up in our face. Whenever that person or situation causing you pain is looming large, it’s tempting to think that we must first deal with the crisis at hand and then go to God with our prayers; “I’ll stop to pray once I’ve dealt with this jerk in front of me.”

It’s also difficult not to think you’ve been left all alone in the battle. This is another powerful lie the enemy likes to plant in our hearts.

Having been through several really hard struggles in the last decade, I can look back and see how God carried me through every one – but I still forget in the moment that He’s always there, waiting for me to acknowledge my dependence on Him.

Though God is doing innumerable things during the dark times in our lives, I believe there is one goal He is consistently pursuing through those painful experiences: reminding us of our constant need for Him. God’s ways are not our ways, though (Isaiah 55:8-9); rather than pushing us out of the way in order to fight for us, He waits for us to realize that we can’t face our enemies alone. So much of the trial you and I face is too big for us to handle on our own. It’s only when I step off the battle field that He steps on ahead of me.

There’s a powerful worship song we sing often at The Crossing called “The Lion and the Lamb.” Its chorus speaks a powerful truth:

Our God is the Lion,
the Lion of Judah.
He’s roaring with power,
and fighting our battles.
Every knee will bow before Him.
Who can stop the Lord Almighty?

How would your life change, really change, in the circumstances you face today if you really believed what this song is saying? What heavy burden would you be able to set down, if you could more fully trust that the Almighty God, who purposefully led you into this particular battle, has not abandoned you? That He’s actually fighting for you, that no one will overcome Him and that one day all will bow before Him? We may acknowledge these statements as an encouraging sentiment on Sunday mornings, but they are hard to lean into on Monday morning when we look at the painful situations pressing on our hearts, whatever they are. We primarily want relief. We want the pain to go away.

No surprise, War Room ends on a happy note; a troubled marriage is quickly restored once both husband and wife submit to God and are broken by their own sins soon after Elizabeth steps out in faith. All too often, though, an authentic life of faith does not offer a quick and tidy resolution. The outcome of my current situation is as yet unknown, and it may take far longer to resolve than I ever imagined. In fact, it may never get better, though that’s obviously not what I want.

Today, if you’re facing difficulty in your marriage, it could take years to repair the damage. Or, it could end badly. Your health issues may clear up…or they may end your life sooner than you’d planned. Your strained relationship with a friend or relative might heal, or it might not. Your financial strain may or may not find relief with the next job. You may never have that magical “three months of wages” saved in the bank that Dave Ramsey encourages everyone to work toward.

Whenever we step aside to let God fight for us, we need to let go of our expected outcome as well, trusting – really trusting – that He has our ultimate good in mind. Far too often, what we want is the return of what we’ve lost, whether a relationship, security, good health, or something else. But often, God is doing something in this time of trial that you would struggle to believe, even if He told you what He was up to (Habakkuk 1:5).

The battle God is waging has not temporal but eternal consequences. Just because our lives are not going the way we’d like does not mean that God has abandoned us. He has promised that He will never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). Christ dealt with our single biggest problem on the Cross; He faced God’s wrath and His “turning away” from sin so we would never have to. Though it often feels like it, we will not be consumed by today’s trials (Lamentations 3:22-24). No, the Lion of Judah is roaring with power, He is fighting our battles, and He will conquer all darkness (Revelation 5:4-5). Though things might look dark, He is light and life; clinging to Him will bring light to your path, even in the dark times.

2 Comments

  1. Judy Sheppard said:

    God’s timing is perfect. I had, for the past several days, been confronted with darkness. i journal daily, and began to write out Scripture that reminds me of who I am in Christ and to tell that enemy of darkness to “back off”. Then I receive this. Bless you for penning this and sharing.

  2. Jennifer Murphy said:

    Well said. I seem to fight the same battles and so want to learn to give it to God, once and for all. He is roaring with power!

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