by Terry Camsey, Major
and trouble you;
May the Lord set an impossible task before you, and dare
you to meet it;
May the Lord give you the strength to do your best:
And then, but only then,
May the Lord grant
you his peace.
Once in a while, one comes across verses, or sayings like this that really challenge one’s perspective. It kind of goes against the grain to ask the Lord to disturb and trouble us, doesn’t it? We’d rather ask for things to stay calm and prevent us from worrying.
We’d prefer to ask God to bless what we are already doing, even if it is towards some mediocre goal that we could, with effort, achieve relatively easily. We prefer this, rather than stretching toward faith goals that are impossible to achieve without his help. Yet, after all, God does work in the realm of the impossible and—if we want a miracle—we need to pray for a really big challenge to solve. Better, by far, to do what he will bless.
But, if the Indian prayer has any credence, it is in the attempting of disturbing, troubling tasks the Lord challenges us to that his strength is released and his ultimate peace realized.
The flip side of the coin is that Satan, too, wants to disturb and trouble us—but for different reasons. He would like to thwart our efforts to accomplish the impossible tasks the Lord asks of us, causing frustration in the process.
Is your corps, having declared war on the devil, troubled at this time? I’d expect it, because he will not be pleased with such a challenge and will respond accordingly.
What does he look like, this “prince of darkness”? He has been illustrated as having horns, wearing a kind of red jump suit, as well as a mustache and a pointed beard, carrying a pitchfork…and yes, with a long tail with a sharp point. Cute! And that’s surely how he likes it since—as long as we hold that image—we do not see the dangers.
But he is a killer! What does he really look like? I think we can best recognize him by the fruit he produces: hate, discord, jealousy/envy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, factions (divisions between people), drunkenness, sexual immorality, etc. (Galatians 5:20-21). Where these are evident, Satan is sure to be somewhere around.
And how does he work? I think that it is often (if not always) through people. We are created in the image of God—and can be used by God for good. Is it possible that people can also (willingly or unwittingly) be abused by Satan for his purposes?
We can tell when people are being used of God by the spiritual fruit evidenced: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5: 22-23). But can Satan use even good people for his own ends? I believe he can.
Someone once said that if you can put a name and a face on your problem, you are not seeing the real problem. You should ask, “Who is pulling that person’s strings?” We can ask that of a congregation, even of ourselves, in any circumstance. “Who is pulling our strings now?” “Who is pulling my strings right now?” Look around for the fruit, and you’ll have a clue.
We need to focus on the “string puller.” Satan is deterred by our donning of spiritual armor. But he is defeated by prayer! Prayer, both individual and corporate, needs to be intense, focused, and frequent if we are serious about defeating Satan and making inroads for God’s Kingdom.
Be alert! Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him! (1 Peter 5:8).