Until we come to terms with war as the context of our days, we will not understand life. We will misinterpret 90 percent of what is happening around us and to us. It will be very hard to believe that God’s intentions toward us are life abundant; it will be even harder not to feel that somehow we are just blowing it. Worse, we will begin to accept some really awful things about God. That four-year-old little girl being molested by her daddy— that is “God’s will ”? That ugly divorce that tore your family apart—God wanted that to happen too? And that plane crash that took the lives of so many—that was ordained by God?
Most people get stuck at some point because God appears to have abandoned them. He is not coming through. Speaking about her life with a mixture of disappointment and cynicism, a young woman recently said to me, “God is rather silent right now.” Yes, it’s been awful. I don’t discount that for a moment. She is unloved; she is unemployed; she is under a lot. But her attitude strikes me as deeply naive, on the level of someone caught in a cross fire who asks, rather shocked and with a sense of betrayal, “God, why won’t you make them stop firing at me?” I’m sorry, but that’s not where we are right now. It’s not where we are in the Story. That day is coming, later, when the lion shall lie down with the lamb and we’ll beat swords into plowshares. For now, it’s bloody battle.
It sure explains a whole heckuva lot.
You won’t understand your life, you won’t see clearly what has happened to you or how to live forward from here, unless you see it as battle. A war against your heart. (Waking the Dead , 17–18)
On Monday evening I helped a man out who has an embarrassing problem, the lack of bladder control. He was out of money and needed some pads to function at some level, so I went to Wal-Mart and picked him up some. When I delivered them began to tell me his story (you have to understand I don’t know who this man is, he called the church looking for help and I helped him out). He told me that he had been asking God why He was doing this to him. The man also told me that he was toughing it because people kept telling him that “everything happens for a reason.” But I could tell from the sound of his voice and the alcohol on his breath that he was in pain. What do you tell a guy who believes that the evil that is happening to him is the will of God?
I told him that everything that happens doesn’t have a reason and that we have to remember that there is an enemy, Satan, who is out to destroy our lives. Then I told him that the awesome thing about God is that He is so powerful that He can use these evil things Satan throws at us to harm us for good. I suggested that he pray differently, rather than blaming God, asking God to redeem the pain in his life.
Understanding that we live in a world at war and that we have an Enemy out to get us makes life and this world a whole lot more understandable. Otherwise, we start thinking so awful things about God, and blaming Him, rather than turning to Him to redeem our lives.