Is it just me or are we seeing more and more problems that seem to have no solution? Physical, financial, relational, and emotional brokenness are becoming both commonplace, and irreversible. What's going on?
On the physical side we find debilitating diseases and chronic conditions. Financially we find friends and family in holes so deep they despair of ever getting out. Relationally we encounter fractures in marriages and families that seem insurmountable. And when it comes to emotional health, anxiety, depression, anger, disengagement, and a host of other destructive behaviors seem to be prevalent and rising exponentially. What's going on?
Perhaps it is time we remember afresh the world we live in has a spiritual component to it that often goes unnoticed. The Apostle Paul refers to this spiritual realm as "the heavenlies" (sometimes translated "heavenly places") six times in his letter to the Ephesians. By this term he does not mean heaven, but the sphere of existence in which all spiritual beings dwell. In Ephesians 2:6 he declares that all those in Christ dwell in "the heavenlies."
This comes into play in Ephesians 6 where Paul exhorts his readers to put on the full armor of God in order to stand against the schemes of the Devil. Why? Because our primary battle is not in the physical realm but against spiritual forces in "the heavenlies."
Allow me to quote from God is Love, by Gerald Bray, a fabulous book of theology as much devotional as academic. On page 411 Bray says
"We fight not against flesh and blood, said Paul, but against spiritual forces. Our human problems are basically spiritual ones, just as God's response is. It is in the spiritual realm that we live and move and have our being, and it is with spiritual strength that we are equipped to combat the evils ranged against us. Spiritual death is the enemy we face and the power that we do battle against. It is the fate we have been delivered from, but it remains the destiny of those around us, to whom we are called by God's love to preach the gospel of grace and the promise of eternal life that it contains."
In quoting this I am not suggesting that either Bray or I believe you can get out from under cancer, or financial burdens, or clinical depression through spiritual means. What I am saying is that the greatest battle if you get cancer, find yourself under huge debt, or filled with anxiety or depression is, for the Christ-follower, always going to be in the spiritual realm. It is going to be the battle not to sin in the midst of trial, or to stop the disobedience that has brought it about. Further, I will say that walking obediently with Christ will keep you from many of the problems those around us face, including many in the realm of physical, financial, and emotional health.
As Christ-followers we simply must put our responsibility to Christ first, even during dark days. Our only hope is in him, regardless of our situation, for he is the guardian and refuge of our souls. He alone can give peace in time of tumult. He alone deserves our persevering trust, and he alone must be our first bastion of hope and beacon of light.
O friend, I don't know your struggles. They may be huge, and overwhelming. Just know that your faith in Christ must be the primary weapon you employ in every situation, regardless of how desperate the outlook. If you have Jesus, you have all you need.
"Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net".