I write about pain, loss, brokenness, healing, and restoration a lot on this blog. These describe much of how I've experienced adulthood, so naturally I write about them as I navigate life. Last week, though I struggled with physical ailments, I wrote a significant amount. I finished three short pieces in one week, a real victory for me. I prayed acknowledging my needs, thanked God for the blessing of progress, and praised Him publicly for who He is. If there’s a formula for success, I would say that is it.
However, this week I haven’t accomplished much at all. I have been battling SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) for the third time in the past few years, and all quick-bandage solutions to keep me going stopped working at all. I finally was forced to deal with (and suffer) how serious the infection had become this time. One entire week has gone by without my writing.
Physical ailments and aggravations are a real part of life for everyone. We all have unwanted time-out when we feel useless and unproductive. Humans have an innate desire to be productive and useful. We lose our vision for personal prosperity and success when we don’t feel that we matter or can make a difference.
This is one of satan’s greatest weapons for many including the chronically ill. When we aren’t able to be productive in a way that we are accustomed or comfortable, we are sometimes so overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy and uselessness that we become depressed. We feel hopeless and defeated. That’s just how satan wants us—powerless. He wants us feeling so left out of life and productivity that we stay there pouting, doubting, and doing without, to borrow from my former pastor.
Good news! We don’t have to fall for this trap. We know that for one reason or another, we will all face downtime from an injury or ailment, chronic or not. Since we know this, we are armed with knowledge. God expects us to put our knowledge to work on our behalf against satan’s schemes. God requires us to fight in order to win; that’s why He gives us armor. He is always with us and equips us to fight, or resist, satan’s attacks on our hearts and minds. That is why we are told in Ephesians 6:10-13 to “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God in order that we may “stand against the wiles of the devil…withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (emphasis added).
First, we are to have our loins girt about with the truth. The truth is that God loves each of us, created us out of His love, cares for our every individual and corporate need, and has a purpose and plan for our lives. Furthermore, we are to know the truth that God made no mistake in regard to His creation and didn’t create anyone to suffer defeat. Therefore, we are to never feel helpless, hopeless, or alone, because the truth is that we aren’t. Certainly we feel this way at times, but that is a direct attack of satan on our hearts and minds.
Secondly, we are to have on the breastplate of righteousness. This is God’s righteousness and our choice to follow, believe, and do what God approves. We see the direct relationship between choices and outcomes throughout the Bible. The choice to believe and honor God always leads to a positive result. The choice to go our own way and determine for ourselves what is good always leads to trouble.
Thirdly, we are to have our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. The Greek word used here for preparation means firm footing, foundation, readiness. The gospel means the good news of the coming Messiah, or savior. Peace refers to God’s gift of wholeness, peace of mind, quietness, rest. We are to be firmly footed in the gospel of peace, so we aren’t shaken by what we experience in this life.
Above all, we are to take up the shield of faith, “wherewith [we] shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Ephesians 6:16). “The Lord Himself is our shield (Ps 7:10, 13; Zech 12:8), providing protection by inbirthing His spoken-word (rhema) of faith in the believer,” according to Helps Word-studies. The comparison is made to the oblong Roman shield used by warriors for full body protection in battle. Faith in God protects the whole person in spiritual warfare.
Finally, we are to “take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Salvation gives us hope beyond not only our current circumstances but beyond this life. Isaiah 26:3 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusteth thee.” Keeping our thoughts on God, His salvation, and the hope only He can give us protects our mind against thoughts contrary to the truth, thoughts that will inevitably cause us harm.
God’s Word is a most powerful weapon against satan. Satan will try to twist it as he did with Eve in the garden (Gen 3:1-5) and with Jesus in the wilderness (Matt 4:1-11), but knowing it well is our most powerful defense. The word used for sword in this verse means “a short sword or dagger” according to Strong’s Concordance. A dagger is used for close combat. That means when the enemy is right there in your face attacking with everything He can, you are to use God’s Word as your defense. You must be very familiar with it to use it successfully. Think of King David as a young lad against Goliath. He would only approach Goliath with what he was accustomed. This is why he opted to use stones and a sling rather than a sword and armor which he had not proven (1 Samuel 17:34-42).
Additionally, we are instructed to “pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18). To pray always means to keep our minds on God as already directed by the helmet of salvation but also to communicate with Him, to acknowledge Him as the all-knowing, all-powerful creator who is our help and hope. Supplication literally means to beg. God expects us to bring our needs to Him. He knows our every need, but it is important for us to acknowledge our dependence on Him.
Notice that we aren’t just to pray for our own needs. There’s a constant battle going on in which we are to pray for others. While we fight our own good fight in faith, we are to uplift others to God for their strength, focus, and determination as well.
We are instructed to have the mind of Christ and to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in [us] both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” We are told to “do all things without murmurings and disputing: that [we] may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life” (Philippians 2:5, 12-15).
If we fall with every attack, what does that say not only about us, but about our God as well? We are to be “blameless and harmless” and “shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life.” It’s important for us to understand where our help comes from and how to fight and show others our source of strength for the battle because everyone will face attacks in various forms, but the armor for success on the battlefield remains the same.
As I face physical obstacles this week, satan tries to use them to attack my mind and heart. I know that he wants to halt what God has for me to do. Therefore, I will remain focused and know that hiccups and pauses are just that and nothing more unless I give satan power to use them against me. I refuse to allow satan to use them to deter my perseverance in the Lord.
I pray that you will choose to take action against satan’s attacks on you and others by taking up the armor God freely gives and enables us to use. Prove it as we learn is so important for effective use. Pray for others and earnestly petition God for your needs. He will never leave you to fight alone, and He always gives victory.