I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.  II Timothy 4:7

Sometimes, the secular world describes life in terms of battle: minefield, attacks, ammunition, weapons, strategy, defense or offense, and so on. Whether or not you believe in spiritual warfare, I think it must be acknowledged that there are times that it seems a battle is being waged against us by powerful adversaries. Things occur that just don’t have a rational answer, and rational responses seem to be ineffective. Whatever language we use to characterize our circumstances, we can be assured that “the one who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world.” (I John 4:4)

Looking at my hero Paul who often spoke of fights, I see that he had to endure many things I’ve never experienced. Just look at his suffering. In II Timothy 4:13 Paul asks Timothy to bring his “cloak” and “books and parchments” when he comes to Rome. One can only wonder if the cold, moist circumstances in which Paul found himself were uncomfortable, making him want to have at least the consolation of his cloak? The winters could be difficult without adequate warmth.

Paul was in Rome ostensibly to appeal to Caesar. He reports, “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me.” (II Tim. 4:16) Then, of course, he famously said, “Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea…” (II Cor. 11:25)  (Thank God, I haven’t yet experienced those kinds of adversities.)

But, in summation, Paul explains, “…we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12) Time to stop looking at the people around us as enemies but instead to see the spiritual forces that motivate them.

Paul goes on to tell us how to fight these impossible battles: “… take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.” (Eph. 6:10-18) And returning to the Old Testament book of II Chronicles (20:15), we must remind ourselves that “the battle is not yours, but God’s.”

Knowing that we are destined for battle, let’s not be surprised when onslaught begins. Fully armored, let’s fight to ,knowing the victory is already ours through the cross.

Father, let us not lose heart and give way to fear. You’ve already empowered us to fight your battles, and you’ve already won. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.