Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Underestimation of Spiritual Warfare

Today I received news that a family friend had hung himself. This man, one of the most joyous and upbeat individuals one could imagine, was 55 years old, a committed Christian, and a psychologist. He left behind a wife and two wonderful daughters.

This is not only tragic, but processing through this startling and unsettling event has provoked thought. Naturally, there are the inevitable questions such as: Why did he do it? How dark of a state must he have been in to have actually follow through with this demented plan without first seeking aid?

However, apart from those questions that may never be answered, one thing is certain. Regardless of what he was experiencing that could have led him to make this decision, something had convinced him that it was too great a problem and burden for even the Creator and giver of life Himself to manage. This person was a believer, and even he was deceived into perilously abandoning hope in the Lord of the universe. It greatly pleases Satan to see a Christian fall, and even more so that in such a fall, other souls are stricken with confusion about an individual whose ministry they took very seriously. Many who knew him will likely ask themselves, if even this man reached a point of absolute despair, then how can his previous Biblical counsel be helpful or even true?

The forces of darkness are real, and they viciously and relentlessly attack children of God.

Christians: we are spiritual beings. Yes, we certainly need prayer, meditation, and fellowship with other believers, but we also desperately need to wake up and sensitize our souls to a truth that is often underestimated or even forgotten, the truth that spiritual warfare is in our midst, we are in battle all times, and that every single one of us is vulnerable. Ceaseless prayer, study, meditation, silence, solitude, fasting, and fellowship are not without reason; they allow us to put on the full armor of God.

While we may or may not fall into this degree of darkness and despair, the battle still rages on, inflicting many other types and degrees of casualties. Lament this reality, yet always realize that truly "A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing."

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevaling.
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabbaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours,
thru him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill;
God's truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever.

-Martin Luther

3 comments:

Buddhajeb said...

I have a good friend in my local church who is deeply depressed and has voiced his contemplation of suicide. My wife and I have tried to talk to him, as well as other friends and family.

How can a committed Christian get to that point? After talking to him, I still don't know. But you are definitely right in saying that we are in spiritual warfare, and most don't even realize it.

My prayers are with you and his family, as well as for my friend.

Beitler said...

Buddhajeb,

You might want to have your friend give a read to:

1. Francis Schaeffer's book True Spirituality;

2. Frank Peretti's book Piercing the Darkness (excellent, easy to read novel about warfare);

He's in my prayers.

Tim said...

A year or so ago, an acquaintance of mine (casual friend) did likewise. It was particularly hard for me to break it to the kids, since two of them knew him and would play chess with him at a local coffee shop.

He was not, so far as I know, a believer.

I also have several close friends who struggle terribly with depression. I wish I knew better how to reach out to them; sometimes, one feels there must be something one could do, yet beyond prayer nothing comes to mind.

The whole creation groans ...