Has there ever been a time in your life where you woke up in the morning convinced you couldn't face the day? Perhaps a distressing situation at work that has gone on-and-on, and you can't take another minute of it? Perhaps the overwhelming grief of loss from the death of a person or of a relationship? Perhaps unbearable physical pain? Perhaps…
Whatever the reason, have you ever awoken one morning unable to countenance that day's battle?
If so, maybe you were lucky enough to have someone who could give you a pep talk—words that either let you see things weren't near as bad as they appeared…or at least let you see beyond that day to a better one.
And often there is nothing superior to a great pep talk to inspire you to fight on. Just imagine you were a foot soldier back in World War II. You had plenty of reason not to look forward to your future, whether bullets were going to be whizzing past your head that specific day or not. Plenty of reason to not want to climb out of bed any morning…assuming you were lucky enough to have actually slept in a bed the previous night.
And then you heard these words:
You are not all going to die. Only two percent of you right here today will die in a major battle. Death must not be feared. Death, in time, comes to all men. And every man is scared in his first battle. If he says he's not, he's a ******* liar. Some men are cowards but they fight the same as the brave men or they get the hell slammed out of them watching men fight who are just as scared as they are. Remember the enemy is just as frightened as you are, and probably more so. They are not supermen.
The real hero is the man who fights even though he's scared. Some men get over their fright in a minute under fire, others take an hour, for some it takes days, but a real man will never let his fear of death overpower his honor, his sense of duty to his country and to his manhood.1
I don't know about you, but at that point I'd be ready to be a "real hero." General George S. Patton's words had the right mix of "you can do it," "you are not alone," "there is nothing to fear," and "be a man." He also didn't ignore the truth…whether it was the fact that some would die…or that cowardice would make their death more likely.
But long before that famous (and controversial) general gave his first inspirational speech, God gave instruction in the fine art of pep talks:
And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for the LORD your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory' (Deuteronomy 20:2-4).2
Patton's men may have had the best military in the world behind them, but the Israelites had something even better in their arsenal.
So, what does this have to do with whether you can face that day's battle or not?
First, do not look at life's miseries with myopic glasses. What you are dealing with is far greater than incorrigible bosses, debilitating illnesses, insurmountable debt, and so on. Instead:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:10-12).
Paul's words clearly explain that you do not just "wrestle against flesh and blood"…and in some ways his list of things we do fight against is extremely scary. However, as you battle "the schemes of the devil" "your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory."
And God never loses. Never.
So, does that mean that money will magically show up before the repo man takes your auto away? No. That your loved one's tumor will be miraculously healed? No. That you will win whatever battle faces you that day, that week, that year?
But, if you are saved you have joined a "holy war" of sorts where the outcome is assured, no matter how many purple hearts you may rack-up during the hostilities.
No, God does not guarantee you a shrapnel-free life, but even before you attain your reward in heaven He promises that if "in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving [you] let your requests be made known to [Him]" then "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6b-7).
I am not saying our Lord will not solve an earthly problem for you—He does that all the time. However, when you pray remember the pep talk implicit in these words:
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up" (Daniel 3:16-18).
Semper Fi indeed!
1 From page 201 of Charge!: History’s Greatest Military Speeches by Steve Israel (published by the Naval Institute Press in 2007 and accessed via http://books.google.com/ on March 6, 2012).
2 All biblical quotes taken from the English Standard Version.