I had no idea

Coming into work, my co-worker next to me asks, “So how was your weekend”, and I replied, “Fixed two mowers, a broken sprinkler valve, and chopped up a metal swing set.”  Feeling somewhat satisfied with myself, I asked in return, “and how was yours?”

“Well, we had quite the windstorm over the weekend.  Two huge pine trees toppled over onto the street, garbage cans nowhere to be found, 90 MPH winds, trampolines wrapped around telephone poles, power outages throughout the city, and for Sunday, instead of everyone going to church, they chopped up all the trees that fell in the various neighborhoods, and the city just opened up all the yard waste dumps to everyone and it was just load after load after load of trees and branches. ”

Yeah.  I got nuthin’ compared to that.

The weather where we were was relatively calm over the weekend.  We had some grey clouds threatening some rain, and all we really got was a light sprinkle.  No howling that I could tell.

And then…

He tells me that he gets a text from a friend about a friend of theirs who had just ended her life.

Her first marriage was a great husband, and 5 kids.  And then he starts getting headaches, only to be diagnosed with a problem with the brain…and dies.  She just couldn’t get over that.  She couldn’t get over it even after trying to replace her first husband with husband after husband who, for some reason or another, had their own issues…even to the point of abusing her.  She suffered depression and anxiety…most likely a chronic sadness stemming from the death of her first husband.  She had tried several times to end her suffering, to no success.  She sought help, to no avail.  She sought comfort…and couldn’t seem to find it.   Her children tried to support her through it all…  And the world’s false salves of drinking couldn’t drown out nor heal the brokenness of her own heart.

And the storms of Sadness and the winds of Depression and Anxiety were too much for her to bear.  It was too difficult…for too long.

And she couldn’t seem to hold on any more.

But you’d never be able to tell the suffering she was going through inside because of the beautiful, smiling face that tried to remain strong in the face of it all.

And then,  a text message that it’s all over.  She got tired of holding on.  She let go.

And I was oblivious to it all.  Here I was, minding my own problems, thinking I’m getting something done…while others, at the same time, are undergoing challenges much greater than what I was going through.

We may never know what goes on in the hearts of those who struggle.  And we may never be able to help solve the problems they must inevitably face.

When we can’t see the war being fought, are we alarmed?  Are we watchful?  Are we mindful?  Do we even care?

This is the challenge in fighting invisible wars.

It doesn’t matter if the war is an actual, physical, military war that’s happening across an ocean, in a land unknown to us.  It’s a war we can’t see.  We can’t see the casualties, the struggles, the fears and anxieties.  We may hear about them through media sound bites.  Regardless…it’s a war we can’t see.

How about the war of ideas and words.  Political wars are like that.  Cultural wars are like that.  Moral wars are like that.  The airwaves are filled with contrary voices, enticing voices, argumentative voices, and very convincing voices.  These airwaves are blasting all around us, clamoring for our attention, various sides calling for us to join them…but we don’t know they’re even there until we turn on the radio, the TV, the Internet.  We can’t see them, hear them…until we tune in.  And only then do we ever realize that something was even going on…if we even cared to really listen to what was being said. 

The invisible, inaudible media wars are all around us, but we can’t always see the casualties of these wars…until it’s too late: We don’t witness the demoralization of young minds.  We can’t see the numbing of hearts through hypnotic media noise and music.  We don’t notice the planting of morally degrading yet carnally satisfying ideas through cultural, educational, and even religiously-cloaked role models. 

Yes, these too are invisible wars.  And we are oblivious to them.   We just go about living our lives as if nothing was happening…and we don’t notice the struggles that people actually have because of these invisible wars.

How do you fight a war you cannot see?  How do you stay aware in a struggle that shows no immediate, visible, physical casualties?  How do you care about the people who are fighting those invisible wars?  How do you open your eyes to actually see what cannot be readily seen?

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  ( Ephesians 6:12) 

The wars of the last days are not just the physical, military operation-style wars.  No.  The greater battle is the unseen one.  The invisible spiritual war.  Especially when everything looks normal. Like nothing’s happening.

It’s happening already.  The lady who took her life just recently is a tragic example of the victim of a spiritual war.  Unfortunately, so are the men who came into her life after her first husband.  They, too, are victims of that spiritual war…for they never really realized the unseen influences that destroyed their lives.

We who claim to be Christians must not only be aware of this invisible war, but we must also understand who the Adversary is.  As it said in the scripture, this is a power that we cannot see, a ruler of the spiritual darkness of this world.  And this Adversary has gathered his own followers, even spiritual wickedness in high places.  What is enticing about this Adversary is that those who are under his influence actually enjoy the “benefits” of being under that influence while claiming to admit that they are under no evil influence.  They actually believe that there is nothing wrong with what they do…or that no one can stand against them anyway. 

We cannot claim to be able to fight this Adversary on our own.  That is not ours to do.  This is not a fight according to how we think we understand it.  Not a fight of aggression or of overwhelming power as depicted in various movies.  No. 

This is a fight of how we choose to choose.  A fight of how we decide to stand.  It is really not a fight…but a choice.  A choice of who’s side do we truly wish to  be in.  As Christians, if we truly claim to be on the side of Christ, then let us decide to act and be like Christ.  For when we choose to be like Him, in thought, word, and deed…then that battle has only begun.  The Adversary will then test our Commitment to this Jesus Christ…and his temptations will only become more subtle, more overt, more constant, and more sporadic.  If our commitment to Christ falters, the Adversary will step up his game even more.  The distractions will increase.  Our frustration levels will mount.  Our hungers and desires to be less than best, to be more worldly, to be more carnal, more sensual….those will increase…to see if we will give in just one tiny bit. 

And that is where remembering Christ in all we do, striving to follow the impressions of good that come to mind and heart, striving to love God and show that love by loving others and focusing on their needs…  This is how we must stand.  Stand with Virtue.  Stand with Truth.  Stand with Peacefulness…as a Peacemaker.  Stand with Trust in God.  Stand with His Spirit.

Why?  Because we cannot fight this war without Christ.  And we must stand with Him, with the Father, with the help of the Spirit.  Just as young David faced a formidable, seemingly unbeatable Adversary in Goliath, the fight wasn’t really his.  David only stood with his faith and commitment to God, did what he had learned to do, and God took care of the rest. 

We, too, can stand firm in the face of an Adversary, in the middle of an invisible war…with our gifts and talents, with our roles and responsibilities, and with God on our side.  We cannot claim ignorance to an invisible war….a spiritual war that we cannot see..but truly exists. 

No.

Our charge is to stand with Him until our last day…and help others who are struggling…to stand.   For they that are with us are more than they that are with them. 

And when you stand with the Lord, you’ll never stand alone.

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