If you don’t have any problems, it means you have stopped being of interest to the enemy: you are not dangerous to him’. Sunday Adelaja, Senior Pastor, Embassy of God, Kiev, Ukraine
There are times, when something disappointing, troubling, sad, angering, happens – that, even after 37½ years in seeing God provide, that my reaction is: ‘Is this the straw that breaks the camel’s back?’. Often, it will be to do with money, which, as someone who’s lived, trusting God – and the faithfulness, generosity, – and obedience – of his people (as that’s the way God has chosen to provide for people he calls to live, trusting him – for me, in 1979, God spoke – ‘Trust me for your home, your security, and your income’ – sounds easy when you hear it, easier still to read it, when it’s not you he’s said it to!!) – is still a battlefield, a minefield even.
Earlier this week, I heard from a good friend, from church that has supported me for some time, that the leaders have had to look at their giving to mission, and that their support is ending. For some years, I was involved with that church, but two years ago, the church merged with another church, and I’ve not been involved since then, as I don’t really know the new leaders. That’s a perfectly reasonable decision on their part: I’m so grateful for the support they have given me. For me, at £100 a month, it’s a significant percentage of my ‘known’ monthly income, and, added to what’s ‘disappeared’ from my income as a result of the general financial malaise in the country over the past few years, was, for a few hours, potentially the ‘final straw’….
It’s hard to describe what it ‘feels’ like to see what is already much less than you need each month, shrink further: I guess only if you’ve been ‘there’ you’ll know: and this is when the enemy jumps onto your shoulder, and tells you every negative lie under the sun….tries to influence your thinking – ‘I can’t take this any more’ – ‘I can’t even begin to live on less’ – ‘That’s it: I’m done, finished: I can’t fight any more’…. I’m SO grateful, though, for those near-40 years of seeing God’s provision, and it IS only hours before faith begins to speak again, and, despite the disappointment and loss, I’m back on an equilibrium. God’s faithfulness over a lifetime is far more significant than a momentary ‘wobble’ – however humanly natural that is, and I’m asking God to restore what is lost.
It WOULD be easy, though, to pack up, and walk away….the enemy ‘drops into your mind’ things like…. rent, bills, airfares, expenses while travelling, car insurance, petrol…. and the needs of other people, in places that I go to, who have huge needs (for them), against whom I’m relatively well-off. The same day as I had the email, I had a call from one of the young people I’ve known through University involvement, in Romania. In tears, a lovely girl, 23 years old, 5½ years into her training to be a doctor – with cysts on her ovaries (very painful I’m told – hard for me to know!!), ‘abnormal’ bleeding in her menstrual cycle, AND – most significantly, a lump in her breast, and ‘problems’ with the lymph nodes. The lump, after testing, is ‘pre-cancerous’ – if left, would be become cancer, the doctors telling her (and as a trainee doctor, she knows), that it would be a mastectomy, and a removal of lymph nodes, and the lymph gland. Goodness only knows what the cost of THAT surgery would be: I know Romania well, and it would be small mortgage… Her ‘panic’ and fear at losing her breast is too much for her to contemplate. It IS – at the moment – treatable by medication: expensive though – 1,000 RON a week – €230, £175, US$256, AU$337, for 8 weeks. For a working adult in Romania, impossible: for a student – utterly impossible. I want to do what I can, and I will, but it’s beyond me to really scratch the surface. Can I ‘throw’ out to you, if you can help? It would blow her away, and strengthen her faith, to know of the care of people who don’t know her. It’s an enemy assault on her life: on her faith: her career. He isn’t going to win. Right now, literally (Sunday afternoon, 1 May, 3 pm), she’s in hospital….
Can I ‘throw’ out to you, if you can help? Her name is Ionela (Yon-ella) if you can pray for her: if you can help towards the €2000/£1400 for her medication, she would be so grateful. It would take from her, too, the ever-present fear that has been with her since diagnosis over a week ago.
I meet lots of Christians who still don’t believe in the existence of an enemy – Satan – who comes after us to cause everything from disruption to attempted destruction, in all sorts of ways. People like that are, I believe, in the ‘league’ that Sunday Adelaja talks about above, and they sadden and trouble me, and they sadden the heart of God, because they’re not doing anything to see God’s Kingdom come and God’s will be done on earth, to bring the Kingdom to earth. No one is excluded from the job description given by Jesus, when he spoke the words of the great commission in Matthew 28 and Mark 16 – GO and make disciples, go and drive out demons, go and drink poison (a glass of water in a lot of places!!), go and lay your hands on the sick, and they WILL get well….
Jesus warned BELIEVERS about the threat from the enemy: Peter did the same in his letter (1 Peter 5:8) – the prowling lion looking for whom he may devour – and, perhaps more obviously, in John 16:33, when Jesus closed the door to an easy life for believers, when he said ‘In this world you WILL have trouble: but don’t be afraid, I’ve overcome the world….’ So, if we don’t get attacked and assaulted by the enemy, we ought to be worried….
Yes, of course I believe in God’s protection: yes, of course I believe that God could snap his fingers and change EVERY negative circumstance afflicting or affecting Christians around the world. But he chose not to do that. Ask people in China over the last 70 years, Christians in Syria, Iraq, North Korea. Christian families wrecked by the Hillsborough disaster 27 years ago. We’re not excluded because we’re from the western world…. And ask Job, who, of course, God suggested to Satan, that ‘he might consider’ having a go at him….
One of God’s ways of showing us who he is, and shaping and transforming our lives with him, is to allow us to go through ‘many trials’. He never leaves us isolated in those trials, even when we can’t feel, hear, or see him…. We stand in the clash of two kingdoms. This is our privilege. It’s our privilege to be on a battlefield. It’s our privilege to fight. It’s our privilege to watch God at work. You see the best of God on the battlefield. You get to hear Him laugh on the battlefield, and there is no better or reassuring sound than to hear the Lord chuckling at the enemy! We serve a God magnificently confident in His own ability to do anything, and we need a church that reflects that passion. There’s a great song, written by Kathryn Scott, leader of the fast-growing Causeway Coast Vineyard, Coleraine, here in sunny Northern Ireland (lol!!), with her husband, Alan: it’s called ‘Sing on the battlefield’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyVP1ImEj9s – which she has linked with the wonderful old hymn. ‘Leaning on the Everlasting Arms’. The ONLY place to be: and, in truth, you only need to be there when you’ve got an enemy on your case….
In the 37½ years I’ve been in ministry, I’ve been trying to learn more accurately when something is a ‘God’initiated’ test, and enemy attack. Sometimes, of course, I get it wrong: but I’m becoming more ‘accurate’ as I try discern God’s voice in answer to my prayers.
It helps, too, when other people confirm what you feel – especially when they know very little of what’s happening, especially knowing little detail. A month ago, I had an email from a very prophetic, insightful friend, from Melbourne, Australia. The words God gave him were strong: but summed up what I’ve been experiencing totally. Here’s what he wrote:
- I hope this finds you well. I’ve noticed your blog hasn’t been updated in a long time. Of course you have been on my mind and I was wondering how you are going. When I pray for you I perceive that you may be under some crushing attack. So I will intercede as the people behind it won’t know who I am. I think they blame you for the mess they’ve made and spew out curses. I have accurate info on who and why….
How often the enemy comes at us through other people – and tragically, it’s often other ‘believers’ that he uses…..
Three days before that, I had this message from another prophetic intercessor, a friend of 45+ years, knowing only the same information as the friend above:
- Hi Paul, I have had something on my mind and heart for a few months now and I feel sick in the pit of my stomach as I write this. This is what I keep getting over and over again as I pray for you. “”I want you to accept forgiveness for the judgement of others on your lifestyle, and on your finances” I do not know what this means and just hope and pray that if it is wrong God will show you; Either way I pray that you will continue to be blessed beyond measure as you walk in the path that he has lead you on
There’s no way I’d change anything that’s happened in these 37+ years. If you asked me immediately that ‘final straw’ is added – except that it never IS the final straw! – I might give you a different answer. But give me an hour or three, and I’d say – no change. Business as usual, albeit with a tightened belt, maybe, but I know that I want to become who God wants me to become: and to trust him totally (if not always unquestioningly). If you are serious about being conformed to Christ, He is going to put you in circumstances where your only true choice is to become like Him.
And I’d never want any period of my life – even a day, maybe – where I’m nice and comfortable and immune to the enemy wanting to stop me.
- If you haven’t met the devil today, then the chances are that you and he are walking in the same direction’ A W Tozer