Have you have ever faced something in your life and you felt like is was just too big for you to beat? Maybe a bad break up, or parents getting divorced. Disappointment at school or as you play sports? Maybe you made an enemy and this person is just relentless as he or she rips you apart and tears you down. I remember dating this girl for like three years in high school. When I went to college, I found out that she was cheating on me and I literally thought that I would never recover. That was a real struggle in my life and I have a feeling that if you’re reading this, you have very real struggles in your own lives. Some people will downplay your struggles for whatever reason, but I know that those struggles are real no matter how insignificant they might seem to others. Throughout our lives on this earth, we are not promised that things will get any easier. In fact, because of sin we can expect that life will continue to get harder and harder. Knowing this, I am left asking: How can we battle through this life and keep our joy?
“When you go out to war against your enemies and see horses, chariots, and an army larger than yours, do not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you. When you are about to engage in battle, the priest is to come forward and address the army. He is to say to them: ‘Listen, Israel: Today you are about to engage in battle with your enemies. Do not be cowardly. Do not be afraid, alarmed, or terrified because of them. For the Lord your God is the One who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”
In this passage, I notice that sometimes God will call His people into war. Israel was about to take the land of Canaan, so its war was physical. Sometimes we may be called to wage a physical war as well, but God may also call us to fight emotional battles, battles against sin, battles to defend His character or to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. As I think about what war is, I recognize some of its characteristics:
- War is ugly.
- A physical war is bloody. There is lots of death and it stinks. People are forced to commit atrocities. Guns are even placed in the hands of children. The greatest quality of this earth is human life and we destroy it when we constantly fight one another.
- When two people who have been together for a while break up (or get divorced), there is suffering and anyone connected to that relationships hurts emotionally. There is a very real conflict with very real fallout.
- When we wage war against sin, whether it is our own sin or whether we are holding our brothers accountable, we start a conflict and people may chew us up and spit us out.
- More and more in today’s world, when we defend God’s character, people will attack us.
- When we defend people who cannot defend themselves, people point at us and accuse us of being anti-women’s rights. I hope one day they realize that pro-life is not anti-choice. It’s anti murder.
- War is ugly. The battles that we have to fight sometimes are ugly. In a sinful world, it is sometimes necessary. God is honest about that.
- War is not only ugly, but also difficult.
- I think back to Genesis 1 and 2. People were designed for this amazing, peaceful, happy, productive life in God’s presence. People were not designed for conflict or war. We hear sometimes that men of faith will be the first ones to fight for God, their family and their nation. I hope the men reading this will pay close attention here. We were not designed for war. That is not what it means to have a manly faith. Having a manly faith is that we would champion the things of God. If that leads to conflict, so be it; but we should not enjoy conflict.
If God did not design the world to be a world of war, then we can be confident that God Himself does not like war.
The Lord hates six things;
in fact, seven are detestable to Him:
arrogant eyes, a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that plots wicked schemes,
feet eager to run to evil,
a lying witness who gives false testimony,
and one who stirs up trouble among brothers (Proverbs 6:16-19)
Just because God does not like war, though, doesn’t mean He won’t use it. A father who loves his child does not like to punish him, but does so for the child’s own good. In the same way, God who does not like war is just when He calls us to war.
God did not simply call the Israelites to war; He promised to fight for them. God seems to always fights for His people. Even though God may call us to war in our lives, He will never make us fight that war on our own. God is good enough to fight for us, on our behalf and for His glory! Here’s what this means. When you face something in your life that you can’t beat, know that God is fighting for you! It is God who will overcome people who stand against you, so long as you are standing for Him. We also have to understand that when we are in the wrong, God may actually stand against us for our own good, just like He stood against Israel on some occasions always to bring them back to Himself. It is God who fights against sin and suffering, and He does so for us! It is God who opposes those who seek to tarnish His character. God always fights for His people.
This cannot be an excuse for God’s people to sit on the sidelines, though. Notice that God calls the Israelites to fight, then promises to fight for them. If we are God’s people and God is fighting for us, what are we insinuating when we do not fight with Him? Consider the following:
- To be God’s is to be with God
- To be with God is to be concerned about what God is concerned about.
- To have God’s concerns is to stand against the things He stands against.
- To stand with God is to act with God.
- When we do not act with God, we say, with our lives, that we do not belong to God.
- Here’s the great promise: God promises victory to His people when they fight with Him.
God chooses us as we are because of who He is. He calls for our obedience, and promises to multiply His goodness over and over again. When He leads us into battle, no matter what it is we are fighting against, He promises victory. So, how do we battle through this life and keep our joy? We have no reason to fear! God is with us! More importantly, God is for us!
 Deuteronomy 20:1-4 (HCSB)