Saturday, October 11, 2014

Encouragement for the battle-weary Christian soldiers

Oh well, I'm tired and so weary but I must go along
Till the Lord comes and calls, calls me away, oh yes

Weary. CC

We're all familiar with the opening lines of that beautiful song, Peace in the Valley. It is a song of comfort and promise, based on verses of comfort and promise. (Psalm 23, John 14:27, Isaiah 11:6...).

I believe all true Christians are also familiar with that feeling itself from time to time, perhaps more than time to time. It seems sometimes that a permanent weariness has settled in and we all feel it. The weight of our sin and the world's sin presses down on us so heavily that 'going along' gets harder with each passing day. We're climbing a mountain with a heavy load that gets heavier with each passing step.

Burdened. EPrata photo

The wolves come and snarl and claw at us. The lions prowl closer and closer, ready to devour. The enemy combatants lob word-grenades at us when we stand up for the truth. In some places, they lob real grenades.

It is a wild and unforgiving world out there, sometimes worst of all in the church! People definitely don't want to hear about Jesus, sin, wrath, truth, vs. false doctrines today, do they?

The verse about tickled ears is coming alive before our eyes. (2 Timothy 4:3). I think wolves is a good and apt metaphor for those who reject the truth. When they surround us on social media or at home or in church or at work, they snarl and claw and do everything they can, including dirty tricks, to protect their false notions.

Paul experienced these things, constantly, from people he had nurtured and considered friends. He was betrayed over and over again by false converts who left him, (Demas), by true converts who went away (Mark), others who simply got drawn away into false teachings for a while or who became unruly (Corinthian church). In 2 Tim 4:16 Paul wrote that 'all left him' at his first defense. Ouch.

Of course, our highest example is Jesus, who was betrayed by an inner circle friend, by the Israelite people He had promised to deliver, and by the world. But He is full of grace and love and left his disciples (and us) with encouragement-

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Source

In reading the verse, the phrase 'take heart' jumped out at me. I looked it up in the Lexicon. The Lexicon for the word 'take heart' is defined this way- and I hope all of you who are contending for the truth take heart from these words,
Take heart: tharséō (derived from /thársos, "emboldened from within") –
--properly, bolstered within which supports unflinching courage
--literally, to radiate warm confidence (exude "social boldness")
--because warm-hearted.

tharséō ("emboldened to show courage") refers to God bolstering the believer, empowering them with a bold inner-attitude (to be "of good courage"). For the believer, 2293 /tharséō ("showing boldness") is the result of the Lord infusing His strength by His inworking of faith ("inbirthed persuasion," 4102 /pístis). Showing this unflinching, bold courage means living out the inner confidence (inner bolstering) that is Spirit-produced.
Do we have social boldness? If we do, the world tries to beat it out of us. That is the weariness many western Christians are feeling now. We crave that peaceful valley.

Digital art, CC

Contending for the faith is a process. We have faith in Jesus, He delivers the Spirit into us, the Spirit infuses us with Jesus' strength to endure trials, and the knowledge that He does this gives us our confidence, because it is His confidence. He empowers us with a bold inner attitude and in that way we are His lights. The light shines and encourages others. Yes, the light draws the moths but it also shines truth to eyes that are blind and hearts that are dark.

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:12)

I am sure that though you're being buffeted, Jesus looks down and says to His holy angels, 'see that little light of mine? She is doing a good work for Truth in My name'.

We take the example of David, who lived a turbulent life. As I listened to the Phil Johnson sermon this morning called Sanctuary, Pastor Johnson said that the only peaceful time in David's entire life was when he was a boy and youth. One day he was called from the fields and anointed King, and his life was never peaceful or calm after that.

Yet from that turbulence, we have the Psalms, songs from David where he poured out his anguish onto the Lord and from which we receive our comfort. As Pastor Johnson said,
As he pours out his heart to the Lord, He naturally begins to focus his thoughts on the Lord, and there he finds hope in the midst of every trial, because he knows the Lord is faithful. And Psalm after psalm that begins on a note of fear or crushing sorrow closes with a profound expression of hope and faith.
Turning your attention to Jesus helps loosen our burden as we lay it down before Him, and naturally then we ponder the greatness, tenderness, and faithfulness of our Shepherd. Focusing on Him, as Pastor Johnson said, helped David time and again
"...makes him look at his troubles from the perspective of eternity, and he realizes that even though it sometimes feels like he is on the precipice of hell, the trials of this life are as close to hell as he will ever come, but this is also is as close to heaven as his wicked adversaries will ever get.
When you are surrounded by wolves because you've contended for the faith, whether online or in real life, turn to the Lord as your sanctuary. As you pour out your griefs to Him, you will find peace there as David did. Our Lord is faithful.

So, how can I go along when my strength fails? When I am so weary? I can do it

BECAUSE HE LIVES.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further reading

Sermon: Sanctuary, by Phil Johnson

Essay: Encouraging scriptures and explanations, by CARM

Devotionals: Spurgeon on the Psalms


5 comments :

  1. My all time comfort "Because He Lives" yes we can face tomorrow, and life is worth the living just because he lives. God Bless you Elizebeth.

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  2. Thank you Elizabeth for this beautiful essay, for the reminder of the blessed hymn "Peace in the Valley" and for Phi Johnson's sermon 'Sanctuary'.

    May God bless you with a Joy-filled weekend. In Canada we are having Thanksgiving so we truly are blessed here. Amen.

    Colette

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  3. Amen and Amen! Thank you Elizabeth

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  4. I might need to read this again tomorrow. :)

    And the day after that...

    And so on...

    -Carolyn

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  5. Request for Transfer by Battle Weary Soldier

    “REQUEST FOR TRANSFER, BATTLE HEATING UP...

    TO: Commander and Chief Spiritual Armed Forces, JESUS CHRIST

    Dear Lord,
    I am writing this to You to request a transfer to a desk job.

    I herewith present my reasons:

    I began my career as a private, because of the intensity of the battle You have quickly moved me up in the ranks. You have made me an officer and given me a tremendous amount of responsibility. There are many soldiers and recruits under my charge. I am constantly being called upon to dispense wisdom, make judgments, and find solutions to complex problems. You have placed me in a position to function as an officer, when in my heart I know I have only the skills of a private. I realize that You have promised to supply all I would need for the battle.

    But Sir, I must present You a realistic picture of my equipment. My uniform, once so crisp and starched, is now stained with tears and blood of those I have tried to assist. The soles of my boots are cracked and worn from the miles I have walked trying to enlist and encourage the instructed troops. My weapons are marred, tarnished and chipped from constant battle against the enemy. Even the Book of Regulations I was issued has been torn and tattered from endless use. The words are now smeared.

    You have promised You would be with me throughout, but when the noise of the battle is so loud and the confusion is so great, I can neither see nor hear You. I feel so alone. I'm tired. I'm discouraged. I have Battle Fatigue.

    I would never ask You for a discharge. I love being in Your service. But I humbly request a demotion and transfer. I'll file papers or clean latrines. Just get me out of the battle -- please, Sir. Thanks for letting me blow off some steam.

    Your Faithful, but tired, Warrior,

    Discouraged Soldier


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To: Faithful, but tired, Soldier, Spiritual Armed Forces

    Location: The Battlefield

    SUBJECT: Transfer

    Dear Discouraged Soldier:

    Your request for transfer has been denied. I herewith present My reasons:

    You are needed in this battle. I have selected you, and I will keep My Word to supply your need. You do not need a demotion and transfer. (You'd never cut it on latrine duty.) You need a period of "R&R" -- Renewal and Rekindling. I am setting aside a place on the battlefield that is insulated from all sound and fully protected from the enemy. I will meet you there and I will give you rest. I will remove your old equipment and "make all things new."

    You have been wounded in the battle, My soldier. Your wounds are not visible, but you have received grave internal injuries. You need to be healed. I will heal you. You have been weakened in the battle. You need to be strengthened. I will strengthen you and be your strength. I will instill in you confidence and ability. My Words will rekindle within you and renewed love, zeal and enthusiasm. Report to Me tattered and empty. I will refill you. My Blood is sufficient and never runs out.

    Compassionately,
    Your Commander-in-Chief,

    Jesus Christ

    The harvest truly is plenteous but the laborers are few.”

    Author Unknown

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