No denying it
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. All power to him forever! Amen. (I Peter 5:8-11)
At times, we believe we are the only ones under attack. It as though all the world goes on around us, busy with their business, and there we are right in the midst of the worst kind of attack. We feel alone, like nobody knows we are there, much less that we are struggling to just keep our heads above water. What is one of the greatest tactics in our enemy's arsenal? The feeling that we are alone - that we cannot share the burden we are bearing with anyone else. Our instruction today is quite clear - we will all experience suffering from time to time - but we are not alone in the battle. There are other believers, put alongside us expressly for the purpose of helping us stay alert and stand firm in the midst of what otherwise would be a losing battle. When we realize we are not experiencing these things alone, we might just see the advantage to forming a 'gang' to deal with the attack! We might call this 'gang warfare'. It is when we stand as united force against all the 'crap' our enemy is hurling our way. Our battles may not be identical, but we all have the same enemy! It could just be time for us to unite in our battles.
God called us to be a 'body of believers' who stand firm against the enemy's attacks, but we oftentimes attempt to do this all on our own. What a foolish maneuver on our part. We won't avoid the suffering, but we might just find restoration coming quicker when we are battling together. If we are afraid, or too prideful to admit we are facing the battle of our lives, we may just find ourselves overwhelmed in the midst of the battle. No single soldier wins the battle - it takes a united front. Perhaps this is why God establishes us in community - so we can form a solid wall of resistance against our enemy. Support is important, but it seldom comes to those too proud to admit they need it. Oh, maybe that is the real issue at hand today. Maybe we find ourselves struggling with our pride - unwilling to allow others to see our flaws and failures. My flaws are out there, my friends - they are no longer hidden. I hide behind whatever I could for way too long. It did me no good - in fact, it actually did me more harm than good. How? The more I tried to deny my faults, the farther away I was from what I needed most for my rescue, restoration, and strength!
The attacks are real. The temptations are never-ending. The moments of weakness come, Words are spoken without thought, Frustrations are allowed to overtake the moment. Before long, we find what we had worked so hard on our own to avoid has come to a full head right there in front of us. Then we have to begin the 'mop-up' and we even attempt to do that on our own! Whatever made us think we'd resist alone, let alone be able to 'clean up' the mess left behind in our lives all in our own power? God gives us good, Bible-believing friendships for a reason. It is time we bring out the 'big guns' to fight the battle. The 'big guns'? Community! We need each other's strength when ours is wavering. We need one another's perspective when all we see is our own limited view. We need the combined learning of each other's experiences and God-given answers to help us sort out truth from our enemy's lies. We cannot, and should not, live without each other. We are not 'we' until we are open to living open lives before each other. Just sayin!