1 Peter 5:8 says that Christians must “be self-controlled and alert [because] your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” This verse is a reason why Christians often do one of three things when they find themselves in trouble. They may cower in their fear, concluding that they are unable to do anything about the fact that Satan is stronger than they are, therefore they must accept defeat. They may attempt to take him on one-on-one, in their own strength, designing their own battle strategies because they believe that ‘Satan is not as big as the Bible says he is.’ They may conclude that, ‘no one else has had this problem before, so no one can help me with it.’ Or they may ignore the supernatural altogether and conclude: ‘I created this problem, so I must solve it myself.’
This last option is a good one when the problem is a spilt cup of coffee or a bulging waist line. Even when the problem involves people, other human beings can and should expect to play key roles in solving the problems they are Involved in creating. But everyone over the age of five can probably realize when a problem is too big for simply their own strength to fix. But millions of Christians believe ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength’ (Philippians 4:13) so they say, ‘I can do it by myself, thank you very much.’
But has Christ given you, even a plural you, the strength all the time? Instead of relying on ourselves, our friends, or even our churches, I argue that when the problem is too big for human means (or even when it is not) we should rely first and foremost on our God.
Instead of Fighting, fleeing, or failing to notice that Satan is simply doing his job in our society, there are at least three proven strategies that work.
1. Believe that God is bigger than anything we may come up against.
Romans 8:31-35 says: So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God's chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture. (The Message)
2. Cheer up because you are not alone in your struggles.
1 Peter 5:9-11 says: Keep your guard up. You're not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It's the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won't last forever. It won't be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does. (The Message)
3. “Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
James 5:13-16 says: Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (NIV)
As we enter a new year, having faith in our God, taking heart in our current situation and praying for ourselves and our friends are three New Year’s resolutions I intend and hope to keep. The following is my prayer for my new year. Though I didn’t write it, I will gladly join in. Feel free to join me, wherever you may be reading this at the moment, having faith that God is listening to your prayer.
we come before you
today to ask your forgiveness
and seek your direction and guidance.
We know your word says “Woe to those
who call evil good” but that is exactly
what we have done. We have lost
our spiritual equilibrium and
reversed our values.
We have ridiculed the absolute faith of your Word and called it ‘pluralism’.
We have worshipped other gods and called it ‘multiculturalism’.
We have endorsed perversion and called it ‘alternate lifestyle’.
We have exploited the poor and called it ‘lottery’.
We have honored laziness and called it ‘welfare’,
we have killed our unborn and called it ‘choice’,
we have shot abortionists and called it ‘justifiable’.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it ‘building self-esteem’.
We have abused power and called it ‘politics’.
We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ‘ambition’.
We’ve polluted the air with profanity & pornography & called it ‘freedom of expression’
We’ve ridiculed the tine-honored values of our forefathers and called it ‘enlightenment’.
Search us Oh God and know our hearts today.
Cleanse us from every sin and set us free.
Guide and bless these men and women
who have been sent to direct us
to the centre of your will.
I ask it in the name
of your Son, the
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one
Prayer taken from: “Recapture the Wonder: Experiencing God's Amazing Promise of Childlike Joy” by Ravi Zacharias