We live alongside a busy road in an old suburb which has many large trees on the side of the road. Trucks and buses are regularly passing by with traffic and with this comes the damage that they do to the branches of trees. One will often see broken branches on the road, with a litter of leaves. It is a normal part of life for a tree and many of them simply grow in a square pattern that buses and trucks pass beneath. The shape of the tree is altered by the traffic.
In fact, most trees will get injured sooner or later: a broken branch, a lightning bolt, a worm, pest infestation, beetle etc. These injuries can set back the growth of the tree, leave huge scars or broken limbs. But trees are generally resilient and bounce back, even amazingly, seem to grow up around that injury and recover somehow.
If you have been a believer for a while, you will know that sooner or later, you will face opposition, insult or offence from someone.
In fact, it usually turns out to be from someone close to you, a quarter from which you least expected it. But scripture warns us that we, in this life should expect opposition, insult, offence and persecution:
“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (2 Timothy 3:12)
We are usually quite shocked when we encounter this hurt, as it usually catches us by surprise. We feel knocked out of shape and have some emotional, mental and spiritual injury. Our hearts bleed and it takes a while to get over it.
Persecution is a reality of life
We should remember that when we enter a life of faith, it immediately puts us smack dab in the middle of the world where there is a contest between good and evil. We who are the light of the world (Matt 5:14) should expect that our enemy will notice us in a world of darkness and will do all to extinguish our light. We often wrongly believe that living a life of faith should protect us from all attack or problems, which is precisely why we are often shocked when we do experience emotional pain, or attack or offense.
Faith puts us directly opposite evil in the fight for the souls of the world. Because Satan knows the power of our faith, our enemy will go for a complete break when he attacks us, he will aim to strike us down. He will break us in such a way that our injuries weep and our faith feels scattered. His goal is to have us abandon our faith.
Jesus said: “‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’” John 16:33
Spiritual Warfare is a reality in the life of a believer
But also remember: Jesus wins in the end and because He wins, we win, every time. We too overcome the world…
“…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:4-5)
Paul testified that he was knocked down, but never destroyed.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor 4:7-9)
We, even though we break easy and are as fragile as clay, in Christ, we have a supernatural ability to get up again, no matter how many times we are knocked down, because we have “overcome the world” (1 John 5:4) As the children of God, we will get up again, and even though our enemy will use people, organisations, events, circumstances or any difficult situation to come against us, our faith overcomes.
We are just like those trees, broken, battered but not destroyed. We still continue to flourish and grow wherver we have been planted in the world, broken but not destroyed. Weeping gum, but not without hope. Scattered, but not lost. Insulted, but not outside the love of Christ. We do not allow the attacks that we experience in the world to kill our spiritual fervor, but we florish because our Father, the good Shepherd makes it happen. We continue to grow in faith proving that “no weapon forged against you will prevail,” (Isaiah 54:17)
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:31, 35-39)
- Ever made the observation that bad things happen to the nicest of people? Or even that ugly things are said of people who don’t deserve it. Being in this world and not in heaven means that persecution and warfare can happen. We don’t ask for it, but it happens. Believers often think that nothing bad is supposed to happen to them. Do you think this is realistic while on earth and not in heaven? Why not? Write your answer down.
- God helps us gain the victory over an attack, but we have a responsibility to fight back with tools He has given us. Read the following passages and identify some of the tools. Eph 6:10-18; Hebrews 12:15; Col 3:12-17; Matt 5:11,44; Rom 12:14. When we use these tools consistently, God works a victory in our lives. Like a tree, we may show scars, but we are still flourishing in the landscape that God has planted us in.
- Read Romans 8:22-39 and write down all the observations you make from the passage. Memorise Romans 8: 31, 35-39 sd your belt of truth when you face opposition.
So, friend, if you are feeling a bit battered and hurt by the world we live in, know that you win in the end. God will help you overcome and you will continue to flourish and grow in your spiritual walk.
Father thank you that even though we may feel battered, broken, persecuted, attacked, unfairly judged, maliciously hurt in this world that we live in, You know all about it and are more than capable of enabling us through Your Spirit to overcome these experiences and continue to flourish and grow in our lives. We know You will do this because Jesus has won the victory for us over death, evil and sin and we will be more than conquerors through faith.
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