Fighting Bigger Battles

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I’ve been sifting through some triggers lately, as life has taken some crazy turns and my heart has sought for a place of refuge. Giving God full access to my heart has proven to be helpful in this process, because He has helped me to recognize some of the ways I tend to run for cover and – in so doing – hide myself in places other than His presence. Needless to say, this always ends up being a fruitless and frantic search for safety, and I always find myself weary and wounded at the end of such a journey.

I have really had to get up close and examine this cycle, because it’s a tricky one. And it’s one I think we all tend to find ourselves stuck in sometimes. When something threatens our security, we know to turn to God in prayer and ask for His help, hoping to see Him act on our behalf. We know, at some level, that He can provide a measure of help and protection which we are not able to provide for ourselves. The longer we walk with God, the more we recognize that other sources of help are pretty powerless, too. And so we learn, hopefully, to wait and trust.

But what happens when waiting and trusting don’t yield the kind of help we were hoping for? What happens when nothing appears to happen for too long? Does a self-defensive fight kick in? Do we take up our own weapons of warfare and begin to deal with things ourselves? Do we run and look for some kind of safe place to hide until the smoke clears for a while and we can see more clearly? Or do we have the courage to stand, and keep on standing, no matter what may come?

I used to tell God that I trusted Him with my children, as I prayed each day for Him to protect them and take care of them. One day, He confronted my confession and said to my heart, “You only trust Me as long as nothing bad happens to them.” Well…yeah! Wasn’t that the whole point of trusting Him?! I give to God my most treasured possession, and trust that He is going to make sure nothing happens to them. Was I missing something?

That confrontation led me into a journey of exploring what it means to really trust God. I am still on that journey, as I regularly face circumstances and even threats which challenge my trust and invite me to grow deeper in it. It’s a little scary at times, but here is some of what I’ve learned…

God is my Defender. That means it is His job to protect me. That also means that when I am protecting myself, or fighting for myself, I am not letting Him do His job, and I will not see His defense.

In my frail humanity, I would like protection to look like never being hurt. In God’s manifold wisdom and amazing grace, He has provided a protection which goes much deeper than my physical and emotional comfort level. I would like to be delivered from every sign of trouble. I prefer calm seas to roaring ones. He, however, has seen a greater enemy and has delivered me from the power of death. Not death itself, but the power which death once had to separate me from Him forever.

As I go out to face whatever battles await me each day, His defense does not always look like a scene from The Matrix, where I dodge bullets and move around landmines, escaping every attack and injury. In truth, sometimes I step on a landmine. Sometimes I lose precious people and even precious parts of myself. But always, He is still with me. Always, He comforts me in my grieving and renews my strength to press on. Always, He reminds me that a battle lost is never the war won. And every time I get up after being knocked down, the world sees the power of my Defender – Who may not spare me the wounds of every battle, but Who heals each one and sends me back with more hope and promise than I had before.

It sounds idealistic, I know. Fairy-tale-ish, maybe. Falsely justifying of things that are too deep for the human heart to understand…possibly. I used to ache for understanding. But not anymore. The longer I have walked with God, the more I have realized that trust often requires the surrender of my need to understand. In fact, when I don’t understand, trust is always the option most immediately available.

If my trust is in the outcome of any situation, it will fail. If my trust, however, is in the One Who defends me – however it is that He chooses to do so – it will only grow deeper roots, despite the fires and the raging seas I must walk through. It’s not something that adds up in our reasoning, because it is the reality of faith, not mere logic.

Job was a man whom God defended, but not in a realm where Job could see it. In fact, Job saw with his human eyes what looked like completely the opposite. Job saw himself being stripped of everything he knew and loved, and he attributed that stripping to God. It is God who gives, claimed Job, and it is God who takes away. Nevertheless, Job chose to press in and keep trusting.

It wasn’t a pretty trust. It wasn’t perfect. But it was authentic. He went back to God after every blow, and refused to turn to any other source for his deliverance and hope. Little did he know that Satan had come before God, looking for someone to destroy. God had given him access to Job, because God was Job’s defender. Sounds ironic, doesn’t it?

But God knew that the devastations Job would walk through would only purify his faith and strengthen his hope in God. And that is exactly what happened. On the field, it looked like a hopeless and bloody battle…for a long time. But in the Heavens, Job’s Defender had gone before him and already declared that the end would be victory.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego’s story is another one that challenges our understanding of trust and the image of God as our Defender. They stood fast in proclaiming their faith, refusing to compromise even in the face of death. They told the King that their God was able to save them from any fire they might be thrown into. “BUT,” they said, “even if He doesn’t, we still will not bow to another.” They were so sure that God would fight for them that they refused to fight for themselves. And the result of that steadfast faith? The fire was heated seven times hotter and they were thrown in!

How is that fair?! Where was God in all of that? How could He let that happen to such faithful men? That didn’t look like He was defending them at all! But when they found themselves in the middle of that all-consuming fire, they found Jesus in there too! The fire of His love was more consuming, and those men were ultimately delivered from what was sent to kill them. And because they were willing to face death, trusting God to defend them instead of fighting for themselves, all those who were watching that day saw just how good their God was.

When you and I face our battles, when we find ourselves under attack or facing harm or the threat of harm, do we reach for our gloves and start fighting back? Or do we stand, willing to face pain or loss or even death if we must, because we trust that God has already secured our lives with Him forever? Do we confidently rest in His ability and promise to protect us at the most important level of all? Do we truly believe that safety is not defined by the absence of trouble or harm, but by our eternal position in Him?

Jesus didn’t recoil from death or danger or suffering. And because He submitted instead of running away or fighting back, imprisoned hearts saw hope where fear once reigned. When you and I learn to rest in God’s defense (seen or unseen), and stop trying to defend ourselves, those around us who need hope will see the God in whom we have placed our hope.

You and I, dear Woman of Breakthrough, have already received life, if we have said yes to Christ. Nothing has the power to destroy us. Jesus said we will encounter trouble in this life. We will face suffering, pain, loss, even death. But none of it can separate us from Him.

So what exactly is it that we’re fighting for? And what should we be fighting for instead?

My own journey has shed much light on the deceptions of the enemy which trigger me to believe that I have to fight for myself. The wounds of my past, the many times my little heart interpreted my circumstances according to my own broken understanding left me to believe that I wasn’t worth fighting for. And that there was no one who would fight for me. So I took up that fight myself, desperate to prove, if only to myself, that I was worth it.

That futile road has distracted me from the real battle for many years. Discovering that God is my defense, and allowing Him to heal my shattered, rejected heart has set me free to see that my fight is never against people who hurt me or have hurt me. And my battle is not to prove my own worth. Instead, it is always against the enemy of my soul who wants to imprison me in hopelessness, and distract me from living in the freedom of God’s love so that others can see the same hope I have received.

Jesus declared me worthy of being fought for when He died for me. The same is true for you. But have we learned to rest in that? Have we surrendered the fight for proving our own worth?

When you and I get caught up fighting our own battles, defending ourselves, we become blind to the reality that every difficult circumstance is an opportunity to trust God, to shine with hope, and to let others know there is a God Who fights for us.

Dear weary-hearted one, meditate on these words from our loving Father today, and seek to find rest in the shadow of His wings:

“The Lord is my revelation-light to guide me along the way. He’s the source of my salvation to defend me every day…My heart will not be afraid even if an army rises to attack. I know that You are there for me, so I will not be shaken…In His shelter in the day of trouble, that’s where you’ll find me…He has smuggled me into His secret place, where I’m kept safe and secure …I’m pleading with you, Lord, help me! Don’t close Your ears to my cry, for You’re my defender…You are my strength and my shield from every danger. When I fully trust in You, help is on the way…You will be the inner strength of all Your people, the mighty protector of all, the saving strength for all Your anointed ones..” Psalm 27: 1;3;5-6 and Psalm 28:1;7-8 Passion Translation

You are safe with Him, dear one, because your safety is eternally secured. So you can face anything today, no matter how hard or painful, knowing it cannot destroy you. Your maker is with you, and He will lift you up and put all your pieces back together again, if you find yourself shattered.

It is never over until He says it’s over. And when He says it’s over, we get to go on to our eternal home, where no more suffering will ever again be known. So don’t listen to the voice of fear or intimidation. Spend this life fighting to trust God and face whatever may come, so that others may see His goodness and want the amazing gift you already have!

Stand, and keep on standing, Dear Woman of Breakthrough!

“Here’s what I’ve learned through it all: Don’t give up; don’t be impatient; be entwined as one with the Lord. Be brave and courageous, and never lose hope. Yes, keep on waiting – for He will never disappoint you!” Psalm 27:14 Passion Translation

{Photo images courtesy of http://www.pixabay.com}

 


One thought on “Fighting Bigger Battles

  1. I love this. Giving the fight to God is extremely difficult for me sometimes, especially where my children are concerned, but I love when you say: “Your safety is eternally secured”. It’s all about the bigger picture.

    Like

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