If you have been a Christian for a while, you will know that there are times you can sense a definite resistance and a buffering from the enemy of your soul. You seem to face all kinds of difficulties and struggles, and it almost feels like an onslaught on your life and family. In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul used the imagery of a soldier going into a battle – more specifically a spiritual battle – because he understood and experienced the reality of the adversity that often faces the child of God: ‘For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armour so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm’ (Ephesians 6:12-13).
As God’s children, we are accustomed to ‘fighting’ our enemy, putting on that armour of God and standing our ground to resist the devil. But for a while now the Lord has been showing me that there are times when a different strategy is needed to conquer the enemy: ‘The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest’ (Exodus 14:14 ). There are times when we simply may not be able to find the inner strength to ‘pick up our sword’ or ‘stand our ground’. These are times when all that is needed is to ‘hold your peace and remain at rest’, because ‘the Lord will fight for you’.
There are several accounts in both the Old and New Testament when God instructed His people to fight, because He was going before them, but there were other times when God fought the battles on their behalf. We read about one such occasion in 2 Kings 6:24 – 7:16 when the Arameans laid siege to Samaria. The siege lasted so long that there was a great famine in the city. But when a messenger of the king went to the prophet Elisha, he prophesied that within a day, the siege would be lifted and food freely available – something that seemed impossible to even imagine.
The next day, four leprous men, who sat at the gate of the city, decided to go to the camp of the Arameans and surrender to them in a desperate effort to try and get food. But when they reached the camp of the Arameans, it was completely deserted, ‘for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army. … So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and fled for their lives’ (2 Kings 7:6-7). The final outcome of this was that the people of Samaria was able to plunder the camp of their enemy for all the spoils, without lifting a finger to fight a battle.
In Acts 12 we read of Peter, who was arrested and imprisoned shortly after the apostle James was beheaded by king Herod. However, the church was earnestly praying for him, and during the night God sent an angel to Peter: ‘Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists’ (Acts 12:7). The angel led Peter out of prison and out of the city without any resistance, and completely unseen by those who meant to harm him. The Lord rescued and fought on behalf of His servant.
I reckon that, as God’s treasured possession, and, as His beloved children, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us discern when to fight, and when to be still. I think we sometimes engage ourselves in battles we never needed to be part of if we heeded God’s voice to ‘hold your peace and remain at rest’. We become overwhelmed and weary and feel condemned because we struggle to be strong, when all that is needed is a quiet surrender under God’s covering, and allowing Him to bring peace to our hearts. What a comfort to know that God stands between me and the enemy and that He is ready to fight for me!‘Yet the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and set you on a firm foundation and guard you from the evil one’ (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that I can know You are with me and that I never need to face any battle on my own. Help me, Holy Spirit, to be sensitive to Your voice in times of adversity and to know how You want me to respond, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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