Isaiah 49:23-26 Who can snatch the plunder of war from the hands of a warrior? Who can demand that a tyrant let his captives go? But the Lord says, “The captives of warriors will be released . . . For I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children . . . All the world will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer. . . [verse 23] Those who trust in me will never be put to shame.”
I woke up this morning feeling discouraged about my weaknesses and failures. About gifts and abilities I don’t have. About expectations of myself I haven’t met. I even thought, “What’s the use of going on fighting? I know I will lose. I will let people down. I will disappoint God.”
And then I read these words. “I the Lord will fight. I will save. Trust me.”
My focus this morning has been all wrong. It’s not about me. It’s about him, the sovereign, omnipotent Lord of the universe, fighting for me. Without doubt, HIS purposes will be accomplished. Are being accomplished. Not just despite my weaknesses, but, amazingly, through them. As my spiritual director is fond of saying, “God knows what he has to work with.”
The idea of being in a battle, and the Advent prayer I’ve been hearing at church, took me to Ephesians 6:12-13. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world . . . Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.”
The armor, Paul says, is truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Word of God, prayer. All of that is directly opposed to the under-handed, dirty, rotten, mean strategies of the enemy, who instead of protecting us in our vulnerable places wants to take advantage of them to destroy not only me, or you, but all that is good in the world, all that we want to preserve for the benefit of our children, and their children.
Truth is the weapon Paul puts first. In this battle, we can’t afford to indulge in un-truth, half-truth, or bent truth. Our enemy, Jesus says, is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). He wants me to doubt God’s ability to use me for good. He wants to discourage me to the point of giving up. He wants me to look at what I can’t do very well instead of what God is doing.
Truth: the battle is too much for me. Truth: it’s not about me. God, sovereign and omnipotent, who has said in these last days, “I will save you; I will not forget you,” now says “I will fight for you.”
And he says (again—crazy how it always comes back to this!) “Trust me.” He is the source of all of the pieces of my armor. Including peace.
What battle are you fighting today?
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light.