Sunday, July 28, 2013

“There’s strong ... and then there’s Army strong.”

The old recruiting statement has rattled around in my head this past week, especially in reference to certain fireballs life has thrown my way. The shield of faith has seemed especially heavy on my arm, and several of the enemy’s darts have slipped through. The poison from their tips penetrates in a nanosecond, then seeps through my system ... numbing, paralyzing, spreading discouragement and outright despair.

I hear the whisper, You can’t fix this. You are never getting past this one.

I fear he’s right. Much of the damage this time was by my own hand, a decision that seemed reasonable in the moment but later turned out to be completely wrong by someone else’s perception.

In the backlash, I apologize, but I have no real defense. Nor can I “fix” the situation.

And honestly, whatever the circumstances, it just feels like warfare.

I think of that verse which talks about enduring hardness, like a good soldier. What does that mean, exactly? Surviving individual situations? Just be tough and “woman up”? And how to do that without becoming callous and impatient with the weaknesses of those around me?

A peek at my trusty Strong’s Concordance was illuminating. The word translated “hardness” in the good old King James is not the same word translated hardness, elsewhere. Everywhere else, it means hardness of heart ... fierce, callous, tough. But in Timothy, “endure hardness” means more literally, be afflicted ... suffer trouble.

What an amazing, and oddly comforting, thought ... that sometimes in the line of duty, we’re just going to suffer some trouble. Suffer affliction, even.

There’s no way around the hurt and the struggle ... nor should there be.

And that old prayer resurfaces ... dear Lord, make me strong enough for this.

Could it be that the sufferings, the afflictions, the trouble itself, are the spiritual workouts, the obstacle course that makes us fit for the battlefield?

It makes sense, of course. And then there are the times when we wonder, how much worse can it get? And yet—we know it can be worse.

In that moment of considering, I realize that even this situation is not irredeemable. This is not the end. Oh, I’m sore and bruised from this latest barrage, but once more I’ll strap on my boots, adjust my belt, straighten my helmet and rearrange my weapons. And then back up—to either march, or just stand, as God directs.

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 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. (Ephesians 6, NKJV)


  1. Oh, I love this post. Thank you for the encouragement, Shannon!


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