I wrote about the Mosul situation in the previous post for a reason: context. I needed context for this post, and it was too unnatural to try to cram it all into one. My first line on my previous post was about how we as Christians (or everyone in general) need to be prepared right now. I wasn’t just talking about events overseas. I was talking about right here, in the states.
I have a beautiful friend who posted in desperation on Facebook today, needing a marriage counselor. Some might think that this is inappropriate, but I’m not one of those people. I have seen people post complaints about their spouse, and that is always uncomfortable. But a cry for help? I’ve got no problems there. I wish we in the Christian community were more willing to ask each other for help. We’d all post like mad if our child were critically ill. How much more important are our marriages? While this might seem like an isolated incident, it got me thinking about the big picture.
What does this have to do with Mosul you might ask? Everything. Think about the people around you. Think about the sicknesses, the marriage problems, the family feuds, the Christian feuds. We may not live in a society plagued with physical beheadings, but we are being destroyed nonetheless. And the same enemy is behind it. Yup. The very same.
We are all under attack right now, and we need to be prepared. The enemy isn’t just “coming to steal, kill, and destroy”. He is here, and he is actively stealing our peace, killing our relationships and destroying our bodies. We are under attack, and it will only increase. Everything we see going on the Middle East is going on here, just cleverly disguised.
1 Peter 5 tells us to “be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.”
There are times when we are called to fight, and there are times we are called to resist. The picture I get here is from the movie “Twister” from back in the 90’s. There is a scene where the two lead characters are unable to escape a tornado and have to strap themselves onto a pipe that goes deep in the ground and hang on for dear life. The entire landscape is being destroyed around them, and their bodies are being flung this way and that by the winds, but they hold on. Their clothes are torn, their hair disheveled, their faces making all sorts of weird contortions. They do not look pretty. But they are holding on, and that’s all you can expect given the situation.
We are entering that storm church. We are in that storm. It will wreck and ravage our bodies, throw our entire landscape into upheaval, and it can make us slam into one another forcefully. I pray that we resist the temptation to attribute fault to one another, and instead shake our fists rightfully at the storm. The enemy is a hurricane of destruction, and it feels like he has just unleashed his hoard on the earth.
Expect major hardships like bombs and beheadings, and stand firm, placing your hope in the Lord. Expect disguised hardships, like marital, car, and work problems, but stand firm, placing your hope in the Lord. Expect irritating hardships like picking the slow line at the supermarket or being reminded as you take out your contacts that you just squeezed a lemon. (Personal experience…) Expect all these things knowing that the entire world around you, both physical and spiritual, is seeking to distract you from looking to the author and perfector of your faith. Be prepared for petty disagreements, but don’t give in. Be prepared for major disagreements, but don’t give in. Be prepared to be confused on a daily basis as to who the real enemy is, because the enemy knows that we are less effective as broken fragments than as a unified body. (However, neither be ignorant that Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.)
We can be sure that those believers in Mosul had strife and drama amongst themselves. They were human. That’s what we humans do. We can also be sure that all of that is forgotten when they are standing side by side watching their children being beheaded. Cling to one another church. Be prepared for hardship. Cling to the Lord. Cling to the others who are clinging to the Lord. Be moved only to prayer.