A Glimpse at the Spiritual Struggle

Have you ever been blindsided spiritually? Sometimes this involves being caught off guard by your own wrong behavior – losing your temper for no apparent reason, for instance. Other times this involves an encounter with entirely unexpected circumstances. Remember the day that your alarm clock died so you woke up an hour late, your coffee maker dumped hot coffee all over the kitchen counter, and then you backed out of the garage into your neighbor’s new car? At work, you mistakenly sent a confidential email to the entire office staff, then lost critical files on your hard-drive – the files you worked weeks to prepare for a presentation due the following day! When you arrived home, you discovered that the sump pump had failed, flooding your carpeted basement. You also realized that you had forgotten your wife’s birthday!

When these unfortunate events occur, don’t chalk them up to bad luck. Step back and recognize you are in a spiritual battle. Sometimes the Lord allows Satan to spark difficult circumstances (that seem to come out of nowhere at all) to accomplish spiritual growth in your life. Don’t waste these opportunities!

Luke 22:31-34 offers a helpful glimpse into this spiritual struggle that affects every believer more than you may realize. Consider a few observations.  First, we learn that Satan endeavors to destroy every believer. Jesus told the disciples that Satan actually asked God the Father for permission to work them over. This was not just a request for Peter; it was a request for all of the disciples. As with Job, Satan figured he could destroy the faith of the disciples by running them through the grinder – by threshing them as wheat. He figured that if he could beat on them enough and toss them up in the air enough, they would eventually break down and blow away spiritually. This is his goal for you as well. (For more information about the wheat-threshing process, see here.)

Second, we learn that Christ mediates for each one of us individually. Apparently God does give occasional permission for Satan to harass you, with limitations. In doing so, He does not leave you to fight alone. He prays for you to emerge victorious. Without the intercessory prayers of Christ, victory would not be possible. For what does Christ pray? He prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail. He knew Peter would experience real darkness, but prayed that the darkness would not entirely eclipse his faith. Even so in your own spiritual walk, there are moments when you experience real spiritual darkness.

Even so in your own spiritual walk, there are moments when you experience real spiritual darkness.

Circumstances occur that perplex you. Your faith wavers, but thanks to the prayers of Christ, your faith does not black out. You emerge victorious!

Third, we learn that God intends for spiritual attacks to motivate you to turn around and help other believers along their own spiritual journey. When Satan harasses, he endeavors to pinpoint existing spiritual weaknesses in your life. In these moments, we may or may not fail. Job, for instance, demonstrated his righteousness (though he still needed some correction). Peter, on the other hand, flat out failed. He cowardly denied the Lord three times in one day. Be honest. Be humble. Admit where you have failed and turn to Christ for restoration and strength. He is waiting there to lift you up, spin you around, and send you forward on your journey in the right direction – towards the cross. And as you go, use the experiences of your own spiritual battles to prepare other believers for similar encounters.

As you face another day, another week, another month, and year – anticipate spiritual battles. Anticipate surprising circumstances that will threaten to magnify your weaknesses and darken your faith. Remember that while Satan is preying on you, Christ is praying for you. Be objective. Be honest and turn to Christ. He will lighten your heart and strengthen your faith for the victory!

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