10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, EPHESIANS 6:10-14
What do you do when you seem to have done all? Do you give up; do you give in; or do you hold on to the end? It’s a fact of life that things don’t always turn out as we expected despite our best efforts. When that happens we will have to choose our response and it will determine whether we come out better or bitter.
Let’s say you prepared so well for an examination and were convinced that you did your best during the exams but somehow, when the result came out you failed. What do you do? What if you believed that you heard from God and went into a business and invested all you had but the outcome was a total loss. What do you do? How about if you fasted, prayed and believed God for the healing of a loved one but the person ended up dying. What do you do?
A few years ago I visited a campus and heard how a prayer leader in the school had left the fellowship and joined one of the cult groups. What was his reason? He said they had prayed and believed God for the healing of a brother who had a terminal ailment in the fellowship but he died. Also, his own mother was diagnosed with cancer and they fasted and prayed earnestly for her recovery; still she died. His conclusion was that a god who could not intervene in those situations does not exist. That’s so much unlike David (see 2 Samuel 12:15-22).
We must all come to a place in life where we can say, “Lord, I’ve done all I know how. If nothing changes then it must be that you have a better idea than I do. So, I rest in hope!” “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,” says the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9). As humans, we have no right or reason to expect that at every point we shall be able to understand the wisdom of God or what He chooses to allow in certain situations.
No one likes adversity but it comes. Adversity has two effects on our lives. It reveals our hearts. “And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” (Deuteronomy 8:2) It also reveals our strength “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small” or as The Message Bible puts it “If you fall to pieces in a crisis, there wasn’t much to you in the first place.” (Proverbs 24:10). The person of faith will trust in God through prosperity or adversity, even when he is unable to understand why bad things happen.
HAVING DONE ALL
That is why our text begins with an admonition to ‘be strong in the Lord.’ We need to be strong because as a fact of life, evil days do come. We can’t fast it all away; we can’t pray it all away; we can’t faith it all away! It is high time Christians realized that, in this life, sometimes, bad things happen to good people.
What constitutes an evil day may differ from person to person but almost always, it’s a time of spiritual warfare; it’s a time of crises; it’s a time of trial. Sometimes it follows a time of disappointment, when we are prone to being discouraged.
In this life, we may lose some battles but we must not lose the war. The goal of the enemy is to keep us down but we must withstand his schemes. Even after we have done all and things don’t turn out as we expected we must still continue to stand. God has made resources available for us if we choose to stand. These are the armour we need to do better than survive in the conflict.
THE ENEMY IS AFTER YOUR FAITH
When trials come, they come to shake our faith. The most critical battle we face in this life is the battle of faith. Paul admonished Timothy to “Fight the good fight of faith…” (1 Timothy 6:12). Towards the end of his life Paul testified: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Faith is our lifeline to God. Crisis often comes to affect that lifeline. What the enemy seeks is to cut off this line. Whether we know it or not, how we respond when a crisis comes will determine how well we will be able to stand. When Job was going through crisis, Satan spoke through Job’s wife: “His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your faith? Why don’t you just curse God and die!”” (Job 2:9 ERV). That is why we should “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (Ephesians 6:17). We must continue to have faith in God. (Mark 11:22).
Job’s response to his wife is quite instructive: “But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:10). We often declare that God is good all the time. He is not only good when everything is alright, but also when things don’t work out right; He is not only good when it’s all peaceful and calm around us but also when our pond is filled with ripples. God is unchangeable.
THE MINDSET OF THOSE WHO WILL STAND
First, they have a conviction: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28). That includes both the good and the bad; the ones we understand and the ones we don’t understand. That was what kept Joseph in the midst of all the trials he faced. His response to his brothers was: “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20).
Secondly, they continue to have faith in God’s goodness and faithfulness. No matter what happens they know that God is good and what He permits is good for them (Psalm 119:68). Like Job said “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him...” (Job 13:15a). It’s an attitude that says, “Satan may have fired his worst shot at me but I am unfazed, I am unshaken.” We should not change our testimony about God no matter what. Job held fast to his integrity throughout the time of testing and maintained his confidence in God’s goodness.
Thirdly, they worship God despite their circumstances. “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). People around David could not understand how he could worship God despite the pain in his heart. “So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate.”(2 Samuel 12:20). In that culture, as it is now, everyone expected David to be mourning, but he chose to worship instead. When we seem to have done all and situations do not change, avoid being stuck. Let’s move on with our lives.
I believe that it’s the way to frustrate the devil – to act in a way that is opposite what he expects of you. If his intention is for you to be sad, rejoice instead; if he wants you to murmur and complain, worship God instead; if he wants you to blame God for things that didn’t work out right, give God quality praise and thanksgiving instead. When it’s all over, let the enemy know that you are not going to give up and die. So, when you seem to have done all but nothing changes keep standing because God has the ability to turn what seems like an adversity today into an opportunity tomorrow.