God created men and women to honor Him and to fellowship with Him. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin entered the world and destroyed that relationship. God, in His mercy, gave us a way out of our mess, but our lives in this world are in constant turmoil, as we struggle against our hearts, the world, and the devil.
- Gen. 2:16-17 (GW): The Lord God commanded the man. He said … “You must never eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because when you eat from it, you will certainly die.”
- Gen. 3:1, 4 (NCV): One day the snake said to the woman, “Did God really say that you must not eat fruit from any tree in the garden?” … The snake said to the woman, “You will not die.”
- John 11:35 (NASB): Jesus wept.
I FELT LIKE I WAS FALLING THROUGH A BLACK HOLE.
It was an ugly feeling, as though Satan had his icy grip on my soul.
Even stranger, I thought, was how evil could torment my soul while I was in church, supposedly worshipping the risen Lord! Wasn’t that supposed to be a “safe zone,” an oasis from spiritual warfare?
Apparently not. We’re not exempt from the spiritual battles, no matter where we are.
I recently read a post from a woman in Australia, who writes as “Perth Girl,” who experienced something similar, a feeling of doubt and confusion when confronted in church with the grim news that a dear friend’s cancer had returned. (You can read it here: “Doubts“)
So, the apostle Paul was right, there “isn’t any temptation that you have experienced which is unusual for humans.” (1 Cor. 10:13 GW)
Her experience was similar to mine, and her remedy was identical to mine: Go to God in prayer.
God created man and woman to unite in marriage and live in harmony with the world He made and in fellowship with Him.
Instead, our forebears disobeyed God, ate from the forbidden tree, and immediately suffered the consequences … which have passed down to each one of us.
We have fallen out of fellowship with God, our marriages are filled with conflict, and our personal lives are a daily struggle.
We didn’t listen to His warning, but fortunately, He gave us a solution.
We can find it throughout His Word, but James, the half-brother of Jesus, said it best:
“Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:7-8a CSB)
MY EXPERIENCE this time with spiritual warfare had a happy ending.
I told God from the depths of my anguish that as soon as we got home, I was going into my office and, in solitude, reach out to him, pouring out my soul.
I did. I told Him of my anguish. I told Him of the evil that filled my heart. I told Him how frightened I was of that feeling. I told Him I felt distanced from Him, and that I knew I was the one who had moved … not Him.
In response, He bathed me in His love, His reassurance, and His presence.
POSTSCRIPT: HE WAS PREPARING ME FOR THE WEEK AHEAD.
There is no doubt in my mind but what God allowed the devil to mess with me that recent Sunday in church because He knew that I, like Job in years past, would call out to Him.
He reassured me of His love for me and of my salvation. That reassurance has blessed me in the two weeks since.
Yes, I will need frequent reminders of His love. That was just one bright spot on God’s sanctification highway.
Here’s His reminder for us:
“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13 NASB)
O HEAVENLY AND MERCIFUL FATHER, we are so grateful for Your everlasting and unmerited love. You bath us in glory. You breath life into our bodies. You restore our souls. You refresh our minds. You deepen our faith. There is no evil that can befall us that is greater than Your power to control and defeat. We are safe in Your arms. O Lord, keep us from wandering. We know You’ll look for us and bring us back, but we don’t want to leave the sheepfold. Bless us and keep us, O Lord, in Your warm embrace. In Jesus’ holy and majestic name we pray. AMEN