When we committed ourselves to full time ministry,we were told over and over that we will face Spiritual Warfare. The very first week that we got back from Little Rock, Dave told me that the situation I was facing was Spiritual Warfare. My response was, "I don't want to give Satan that much credit." I soon realized that it was, but not only that situation, but so many other things that were going on as well. I reminded myself of 1 John 4:4, ".....greater is HE who is in you, than he that is in the world." It kind of made me mad to think that I had the power of Christ in me, and I was allowing myself to be defeated. So I made a decision to stand strong and not give Satan the victory.
It seems when I make decisions like that, they last about a day. : ) How quickly I forget who is responsible for the battles we face every day. Sometimes it's easy to see it is the enemy, but other times it's not so obvious. Ephesians 6:12 says, "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." So basically, the enemy is responsible for every struggle we have. Some may argue it's the consequences of our own sin, but who is responsible for the temptation that got us into the sin in the first place? So I am reminded again that I am not giving the enemy enough credit for the struggles I face.
This week has brought on some frustrations that I did not credit to spiritual warfare until I read my devotional this morning. When I am dealing with close relationships, and I get hurt, I do not think of the enemy. I think the other person is the problem. I get frustrated, try to learn what I need to see, and move on. For the past few days I have felt hurt and frustrated over someone that is close to me. I am one to easily look over an offense and not take things personally, but when something is directed at me, I get hurt. I could never understand how someone can be so hurtful on purpose. In this situation, I see the pull the enemy had on the other person, but not myself. My desire is for all men to know Christ and to have freedom in him. When I see someone struggling, it pains me when I see how they can make it better.
For the past couple of days I have been praying for the Lord to show me what He wants me to see in all this. I read a devotion this morning titled, "Thorn in the Flesh". This part really stuck out to me:
"A thorn might even be something social. Perhaps it's a pesky relative, a neighbor, or a colleague at work. God regularly places people in my life to reduce the risk of my becoming deluded about how cool I think I am!
While we don't know exactly what Paul's thorn was, we can define a thorn in the flesh as trouble that enables God to work more effectively in us and through us. It is anything that keeps pride, arrogance, self-sufficiency, and immorality in check so that God can prove Himself strong in our weakness.
Don't just look at the thorn....look for the benefit beyond it. It might just be what God can use to unleash and activate the power of Christ in your life."
The thing that is so cool about this spiritual battle is that God is on our side. I see clearly now what Satan is trying to do, but God has a bigger agenda for me. I can so easily miss what God wants to teach me if I focus on my hurt. Another thing I read in my devotional this morning is this: "What are you going to do when someone hurts you? In order to navigate your way through relationships, you need a conviction about how you're going to respond when someone hurts you. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4, to forgive as Christ forgave...He forgave FREELY, He forgave QUICKLY and He forgave GENEROUSLY."
It is so easy to tip the scales in our minds and see someone else's flaws as bigger than ours, but what a disservice I do to myself when I do that. I must remember that God uses these situations as an opportunity to stretch me and grow me, and to see my own sin - and boy do I have a lot to work on. And when I tip the scales in my own mind, I will miss my sin. I see how these situations can make you think of yourself more highly than you ought because you have thoughts like, "I would never do that". With prideful thoughts like that, Satan has won a battle - and if he wins every battle he will eventually win the war!
My commitment is to forgive as Christ forgave me: Freely, Quickly, and Generously, and to search my own heart like David did in Psalm 139:23-24, and see how I have offended Him!
Thank you Lord for giving so Freely.....