Easy. Comfortable. Convenient. I tend to get frustrated when my world is composed less of these and more of their opposites. Hard. Uncomfortable. Inconvenient. The challenges of this world should not surprise me. I know the words of Jesus in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation.”
Tribulation is defined as “a state of great trouble or suffering.” [dictionary.com] Some says are full of great trouble. Some seasons seem to be filled with back-to-back troubles. You barely get through one trouble and on its heels you see the next one right behind it. I am tempted to think this is just my life. But when I listen closely, when I live near to others in community, I learn that it is far more widespread.
The mom who just posted her sunny poolside photo spent last night crying in bed. The family who jetted off to some lovely location of which I could only dream is grieving the loss of a family member. The friend who got a promotion at work is also struggling through behavioral issues with her child. We see a pretty picture, but behind it lies a story filled with the same trouble and suffering I know all too well.
I can get lulled into a false sense that this world owes me something. I can even begin to think that God has forgotten me; surely He doesn’t intend for me to endure so much tribulation in this world? Surely He wants to make my life easier? That is the cruise ship mindset that sneaks up on me, and it is dangerous to the heart and mind of a follower of Jesus. My friend, we are at war.
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”
1 Peter 2:11 ESV
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”
2 Corinthians 10:3-4 ESV
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
Ephesians 6:12 ESV
We are at war. We who count ourselves as followers of Jesus are in a war that takes place against “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” [Ephesians 6:12 ESV] The temptations this world offers draw us in with our senses: we see them, hear them, smell them, feel them, taste them. The spiritual war that takes place in heavenly places requires us to be attuned to our spiritual sense.
You and I are tempted by the easy, the comfortable, by what is easily seen and touched and heard. Our Father is calling us up to the spiritual realm to wage war on this earth for the souls of those who hang in the balance. I am ashamed of how often I settle for earthly comfort, how I seek it out and neglect my responsibility to fight for souls, for freedom, for healing, for breakthrough that all happens in a world I cannot yet see.
My flesh longs to reside on a cruise ship, to be served and to live a life of ease and comfort. However, any amount of time I spend serving that fleshly desire is time I am neglecting to spend in the battle.
Do you want to spend more time fighting spiritual battles than you do now? Do you desire to know God in a way that opens your eyes to the spiritual battles of those around you? We fight a common enemy even though our battles may look vastly different. We fight a common enemy, and we serve the God who wins in the end. Let’s focus on linking arms, raising our spiritual weapons, and fighting together for the things that will matter for eternity. Are you with me?