This month, I slipped off the proverbial beaten path and ventured into some territory I’d only caught a glimpse of before. It was an area where I’d said, “Oh yea, that sounds good,” and then turned away and forgotten about it. Because if a person really took this concept fully to heart…well, it could get a little weird. Maybe even scary.
But for whatever reason, this time I decided to try a little experiment. What if, for one month or so, I took Ephesians 6:12 seriously and literally. What if I interpreted everything that happened to me and around me through a spiritual lens? Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (ESV). What if I looked for the spiritual forces behind every physical problem? What would I find, and how would that change my actions and attitude?
The first physical problem I noticed was in my body—my sore shoulder. It had been hurting since I injured it a year and a half ago playing disc golf, and nothing I tried seemed to fix it. So, what might be going on spiritually? The pain was very distracting, I’d spent significant time at appointments like physical therapy, and the pain had kept me from exercising in general so my whole body felt stiff and weak. Would the enemy want to keep me distracted with pain, and want me to spend my time running around to appointments? Would he want me to get physically run down and weak? Yes, I think so.
Now I’m not going Christian Science and saying the physical world doesn’t exist. My shoulder problem is real. And I’m not against doctors—they do very well at curing the things they know. I’m not even saying the devil causes every illness. I’m just explaining how I saw my situation. And seeing the enemy using my shoulder pain to distract me from following Gods plans got me a little irked.
When I saw my shoulder pain from a spiritual perspective, something else also happened. The pressure to fix it myself lifted and a new strength welled up inside. It was up to God to fight spiritual battles, and I knew he could.
After that, I started applying this spiritual struggle principle to other areas. When Bob told me about tragedies and political controversies on the news, I got all worked up thinking about them. But then I stopped and asked, “What do you think is going on in the spiritual realm there?” When we thought about it that way, the answer seemed obvious—the enemy riling people up, leading them down his path, and distracting Christians from their mission. Our view shifted from problem solving and judgement to the big picture of eternal priorities. What was God’s answer? Pray, listen, and love.
My shoulders relaxed as hope rose. God could work even the bleakest situations to good.
I looked up Ephesians 6 again, but this time I started at the beginning of that paragraph—verse 10. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” When I recognized the spiritual aspect of problems and trusted God to provide the spiritual solutions, I did feel strong in the Lord. And it felt good.
Psalm 81:1 echoed in my head. “Sing for joy to God our strength.” Yes, praise you, Lord Jesus, for the strength and peace you give.