Image via forgottenchildren.org
As a society we are experiencing an unusual season of difficulty and fear-producing happenings. They are durable over time which has the potential to wear us down spiritually as well as physically and emotionally. Anxiety and depression are on the rise across our society, and following the rise is an increase in hopelessness, suicide, and substance use difficulties and relapses.
For a great number of people of faith this is testing their trust in our God. Many who are believers in God are walking in fear and doubt, questioning the goodness of our God. This happens often when people who believe in our God are in the habit of walking by sight as opposed to by faith. The world is indeed struggling, something the Lord Jesus warned us would happen (read His words in the entire chapter of John 16). When we look around and see all the troubles which threaten our worldly equilibrium, it is vital to immediately turn our gaze back to our God and seek Him. He is our help, our shield, our defender.
These times measure the strength of our trust in our God, the level of our true commitment to Him. That trust and commitment is not measured in our good times when things are going well. They are measured in our hard times, our trials, our difficult passages in life. It is in these times that our fixation upon our God (Hebrews 12:2), our trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5-6), and the focus of our hope in Him (1 Peter 1:3-9) is proven, and it is also strengthened.
There are those who will tell you that comfort, ease, and the absence of difficulties is the sign of the Lord’s blessing, and that trouble and discomforting and difficult times indicate spiritual trouble. The scriptures tell us differently. Our God promised that in this world we will have trials. The Psalms are not prayers for deliverance from difficulties and attacks but deliverance through them. The entire book of 1 Peter is a message of hope and an encouragement to remain steadfast given to a band of disciples who were faithful to God and who experienced what Peter refers to as trials, punishments and fiery ordeals.
Troubles will come to us and our enemy, Satan, will target them against the faithful above all. How do we pray when we are undergoing stressful events, difficult life passages, or any kind of spiritual of personal attacks?
John Eldredge speaks of praying to Jesus, asking Him to interpose Himself between us and the attacks and schemes of our enemy, Satan. This has been a useful prayer for me on an almost daily basis. Below is a picture that helps me in understanding the work of Jesus Christ interposing Himself between the attacks of the enemy and us, His children.
The picture is from the Iraq war. The setting is a market place where a car bomb has just gone off. In the background are people hurrying to get out of the area. Hastening their departure is the sound of rifle fire that has just erupted at the edge of the market area.
The soldier is from the 82nd Airborne Division. He is a true soldier, neither hiding nor running nor ignoring the threat. He is standing tall and walking toward the gunfire, alert for the danger and ready to intervene. The young Iraqi boy has figured out that the safest place for him in this moment is hiding behind the warrior. And that warrior understands his role as the shield and defender of this child.
Our Lord Jesus is a warrior. Our safest place is to be hiding behind Him, yes, even in Him. He is our shield and defender. We need to hide in Him and behind Him daily, for the attacks never end.
Image via Lt. Col. (Ret.) Dave Grossman, Ph.D.
For your encouragement, here are some of my favorite passages of scripture that keep my focus upon my God within me as my shield and defender in my most difficult times. In my most (potentially) trying times, these reminders to seek my God to interpose Himself between me and the attacks or dangers have been a great source of calm and confidence.
Psalms 23, 25, 27, 28, 91 and many more.