January 17, 2018 by Katy Epling
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. –Ephesians 6:10-13
Paul’s words to the Ephesians—and to all of us—read as a mighty battle cry. We are fighting spiritual battles! Be strong in the Lord! At the same time, though, I have always found them a bit intimidating. It feels like he is talking about Big Important Battles, like government coups and religious persecution. How does this relate to my everyday life?
Almost two years ago, my daughter came down with walking pneumonia. It was miserable, but it’s just part of life, right? We get sick, we take a few days off, rest, take our antibiotics, and get better. Except she didn’t, not completely. She went directly from walking pneumonia to a mono-like virus that left her sleeping eighteen hours a day to a multi-month battle with chronic headaches and fatigue. In fact, her struggle with a weakened immune system continues to this day.
It’s hard to do life when you don’t feel well. It’s hard to go to school each day, to do chores, to deal with little brothers. It’s frustrating when you want to enjoy things like sleepovers but you know that not getting enough sleep will likely result in another cold and feeling run down again. It’s hard to be hopeful and joyful when your throat hurts and your head hurts and you just don’t feel good. Especially after two years. In case you were wondering, it’s also hard to watch your child battle through it all.
On the surface, her health issues seem like an entirely earthly problem. Her body is battling sickness, which doesn’t seem to have any spiritual implications. On the contrary, though, I have watched this impact her spiritual walk daily—and mine, too. As she perseveres through daily life feeling weak, she is learning to rely on God’s strength. When feeling sick takes a toll on her emotional health, we point her back to who she is in Christ. We are all learning to seek wisdom and encouragement from God’s Word. Her earthly struggles are really spiritual opportunities, helping her to build her armor.
Life is full of day-to-day conflicts. Sickness, arguments with our spouses and children, work frustrations. Even if we aren’t facing catastrophes, the mundane aggravations of life can wear us down, especially when we forget to step back and maintain a spiritual perspective on our earthly struggles. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not claiming that every disagreement with your boss is an attack from Satan. I’m not even suggesting that my daughter’s continued health struggles have been brought on by the enemy. Instead, I am encouraging us to step back and see the bigger spiritual picture.
Our everyday battles are more than just earthly annoyances. They are spiritual opportunities. When we compartmentalize them, when we view them only from the perspective of their earthly aspects, we rob ourselves of the gift of God’s help and the opportunity for spiritual growth.
A child who never takes a teetering step cannot become a marathon runner; so we must learn to rely on God in our small frustrations if we hope to stand firm when true spiritual attacks come.
Earthly struggles, whether big or small, are opportunities to suit up and build our armor. By keeping our eyes on the Heavenly Father, these daily battles can teach us the courage, faith, and perseverance we need to “withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”