God spoke these words clearly into my spirit the other day as I drove away from my daughter. I had gone to support her through a difficult situation which I won’t discuss for her sake but something that no woman should ever have to experience. There was no resolution and she was frustrated and disillusioned as a result of her expectations to have this finished. In my hurt for her, I was calling out to God and asking why and trying to trust in the process. The words, ‘things are not as they seem’ so clearly impressed upon me and I immediately felt comfort and hope. I felt the assurance that even though things did not look resolved in the physical realm, there was much victory in the spiritual realm and the favor of that was to come.
We forget in our humanness that God is for us and He sends out the troops. As I meditated on the words that God spoke to me, I was reminded of the story of Elisha’s servant when he was fearful of the army sent for Elisha because God kept thwarting the kings plans by revealing them to the prophet. ‘And Elisha prayed,” Open his eyes Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.’ 2 Kings 6:17. God’s invisible army was protecting and fighting for them.
God desires us as Christians to see deeper than our circumstances, to remember that things are not as they seem. We may flippantly say that our struggle is not against flesh and blood but read carefully the context in these verses, ‘Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything to stand firm…’ Ephesians 6:11-13. The apostle Paul reminds us twice to put on or take up the full armor of God.
What does this look like for us practically? #1 Be prepared there will be trouble. Our lifegroup is studying Love and Respect Building Blocks by Emerson Eggerichs (highly recommend for any stage of relationship, or anyone really) and one verse he said that I think should be a staple in premarital counseling is 1 Corinthians 7:28, ‘If you marry, you have not sinned, but you will have trouble.’ Emerson says we become troubled by the trouble which causes more trouble! Prepare for the storms and don’t freak out. He says you will never come to the place where you will get off the crazy cycle completely during your small percentage of trouble, the issue is getting off of it quicker. This can look like, getting into God’s word, lightening up (if we can laugh about something later, why not do it sooner) seek counsel from other’s who have been there. Again, community is important to have a strong relationship. This concept parallels to our spiritual life in that God has told us we will have trouble and let’s be honest, none of us likes to fight. Our instinct is to run from conflict rather than stand up in it. We aren’t doing it alone though.
#2 Know God and His word. What your heart believes about God is a good indicator for how you will trust Him in trouble. Do you know Him well enough to make the judgments that you have? Jesus showed us that an effective strategy is to know and quote scriptures to our enemy. Saturate your mind with God’s word, this is part of taking up the full armor of God. Continue reading the rest of Ephesians 6 for detailed strategy. Pray that your eyes be opened. ‘Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.’ Psalm 119:18 God wants to enlighten us so that His word is alive to us. He may open your eyes to dreams and visions and wisdom so that you are equipped to fight when trouble comes.
#3 Check your expectations. As my daughter and I experienced our expectation in circumstances and process, paved the way for a hard fall. When things are not as they seem, it does not mean that God is not working things out according to His will. It usually is not our timing or our way and if there is a discrepancy between our expectations and reality we can be disillusioned and if we are not careful it can lead to bitterness. Keep your eyes on God and who He is, that He is faithful and just, slow to anger and full of compassion, have an expectancy for Him, not expectations of Him.
I heard these words on a tv show later that day, “What you are going through is not a punishment, it is God setting up Satan for a knock out blow! God always has the final say no matter what enemy or fight we may come up against.” Hope – a feeling of expectation and a certain thing to happen. I will continue to hope for the knock out blows and that because of Jesus we have victory over the enemy. Things are not as they seem…