15 and he said, “Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 16Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley in front of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the LORD is with you.”
2 Chronicles 20:15-17 NASB
The Impossible Battle
How many times in life do we face a seemingly impossible battle ahead of us and become discouraged over our inability to conquer? Perhaps we feel defeated before the battle even begins? We look and see an enemy that will surely overtake our very best efforts. What do we do? As born-again believers in Christ, we have options.
The battle comes to us all in different ways and on different days. However, the enemy of God's children is one and the same for everyone. 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world."
Yes, our adversary actively seeks to devour us; he is constantly searching for an opportunity to get a foothold into our lives. He is compared to that of a lion, on the hunt for someone from whom he can take away their life. This isn't a game nor is it a fairytale; we're not living in an Aesop's fable. This life isn't part of the fantasy of your favorite make-believe comic book movie. No, this is real life and death, good and evil, mortal and immortal, seen and unseen.
I find it interesting how Peter starts this verse above by saying "be of sober spirit, be on the alert." He understands how easy it is for us to become complacent in life, to drift off into a mental state that forgets that we have an adversary. We can become lulled into a sleep where we are concerned with things that don't matter. Instead of being full of the Spirit, walking in sobriety of thought and Spiritual understanding, we succumb to stories, and fiction, and entertainment, in the end seeking out and diligently pursuing childish, superficial things which do not matter. Then when the battles comes to our door, when the enemy lays in wait for our demise, we are unprepared to engage in the fight. That is what the adversary wants: asleep, unaware, immature Christians.
So how should we respond? How do we engage the enemy when we suffer attack? I believe there are a few options and we all probably have had experience with each one.
First, we could run and hide hoping the enemy will look the other way or simply forget we are there, but I haven't seen too many victories with responses like this. No, in fact, the battle usually ends up coming to wherever we hide or simply meeting us again when we least expect it. In addition, we know that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). God does not want us to run and hide; this is not His way and it should not be ours either. I can tell you I’ve tried this option before, and I don’t believe I would recommend it to anyone.
Second, we could fight it out ourselves, wrestling with the enemy in our own strength, trying to accomplish the victory with our natural man. I know that can be an easy knee-jerk reaction to many situations, but I think we would all agree that any successes gained here are never permanent and often ends up hurting more than it resolves. I have personally fought many battles this way and I don't believe I can think of any real, lasting victories when I responded in my own strength. No, I don’t believe I would recommend this option either.
Thankfully, there is another choice we could make; we could face the enemy head-on relying solely on the God who created all things to do our fighting for us. That doesn’t mean it will be all roses and lollipops, nor does it mean that we won’t suffer some battle damage along the way. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that we won’t have to make some kind of physical decision in the process that requires incredible diligence and a steadfast spirit. But what it does mean is that our loving heavenly Father, who longs for us to go to Him with our battles, will do the fighting on our behalf. It also means that He already sees the victory because He has already overcome all things.
In Christ, all things were made that have been made and He alone crushed the power of sin and death for us. In end, all things, both great and small, seen and unseen, are returning to Him (Hebrews 1:1-2). How can we not trust Him to accomplish the victory for our sake? Yes, I believe this is the choice we should choose. For He alone is our true strength, and He alone is the one to whom we should look for our victory (2 Timothy 4:16-17).
The Armor of God
Let us also remember that before we go into battle, we need to first prepare ourselves with the right equipment.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 15 and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:10-17
The full armor of God is not a concept I think much about in my adult life. I remember as a child the visual aids my Sunday school teachers would use to describe this idea. I also remember the plastic toy armor my parents bought for me at the Christian bookstore. Unfortunately, I would say these concepts were more on my mind back then than as I have grown older. But I believe that is where we need to heed the words of Peter above to be sober minded and on the alert. I need not forget that the battle, and the enemy, is real and he seeks to devour me and my family.
It is my hope that this post will encourage you in whatever challenges you are facing in your life. You are not alone in your struggles, nor do you have any need to hide in fear. Running away from your adversary will do you no good. Simply trust in the power and strength of the Lord for the battle belongs to Him and He is with you.