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Satan Hunts Among the Hurting

Marshall Segal / November 3, 2015
Satan Hunts Among the Hurting

Mountain lions detect vulnerabilities in their prey and attack the weakest — the young, the sick, the injured. Studies have confirmed this instinctive cruelty. It’s how the mountain lion lives, following the scent of suffering and feasting on whatever he finds.

The enemy of your hope and happiness hunts with that same instinct, with a cold-hearted and ruthless hunger for the weak or hurting. Satan prowls like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). And because he’s clever, he spends a lot of his time among the suffering. He lies in wait with lies, wanting to consume the fragile and vulnerable.

A School for Suffering

Peter knew what it felt like for Satan to pounce on him in difficult circumstances, to find himself suddenly gasping and drowning in temptation, to lack the strength to fight and to be overcome. He abandoned and denied Jesus on the night he died — not once, but three times (Luke 22:60). Like a wounded or sick infant deer pitifully trying to escape a mountain lion, the once confident and strong Peter became the defenseless prey.

But before Jesus hung on the cross, he had prayed for Peter, that his faith would not fail, and that his ministry would rise again from the ashes of fear and defeat.

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31–32)

And the same Peter that cowered in fear before the little servant girl, denying he ever knew Jesus (Luke 22:56), was later crucified for his Christian faith. And before he boldly died to tell his love for Jesus, he wrote a letter to suffering Christians everywhere and for all of time, even today.

Peter had learned that Satan loved to hunt among the hurting, but he also learned that God arms us to fight well, even in pain and weakness. God plants invincible truths in our vulnerable hearts, and then guards our faith with his infinite power (1 Peter 1:4–5). Here are five truths to believe in the valley against all of the lies Satan hides in the shadows.

1. All of your suffering will end one day.

Peter writes as one who has suffered, to brothers and sisters who will suffer for their faith in Jesus (1 Peter 4:12–13). The painful moments in life — however those pains come — are the ones in which we’re most likely to question God and go our own way. Satan says,

God doesn’t care about the pain you’re going through.

God isn’t able to do anything about it, anyway.

The distress, the misery, the adversity will never end.

But Peter says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” (1 Peter 5:6). Your present suffering will only be for a little while (1 Peter 1:6), even if it’s for the rest of your earthly life. And soon, God will lift (“exalt”) you out of these difficult circumstances and into his safe and satisfying presence forever, away from everything you feared and suffered in this age (see also Romans 8:16–18, James 4:10). He will heal every wound, make up for every loss, and wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4).

Instead of responding to our suffering with proud indignation, we shock the world with patient, even joyful, humility. We follow Jesus, who for the joy set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2) — “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death” (Philippians 2:8). He suffered everything knowing the happiness of being held by and for heaven.

2. God is not only able to guard you, but he also cares for you.

What does humility look like in the midst of hardship and heartbreak? “Humble yourselves . . . casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Instead of defiantly hurling your affliction back at God, humility hands every anxiety back to him with affection and confidence. Humility refuses to treat God like an incompetent or unsympathetic boss, but comes to him, even in suffering, as a compassionate and invested Father.

Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26). If we truly believed that the God who created all things, having absolutely everything at his disposal, cared for us like a Father, then we would not resist him and his will like we do, even when life gets hard.

3. Our suffering in this life reminds us we’re at war.

Peter goes on to say, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). All the things that might tempt us to doubt God and his goodness are meant to lead us to him, and to prove that he’s engaged in a massive spiritual battle for our lives. A powerful, compelling, and creative enemy wants to kill you.

As a weathered veteran of the war of life, Peter wrote earlier, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). When we are disappointed or afflicted, God is shaking us out of our complacency and entitlement to awaken us to the realities of life deeper and more important than our circumstances.

4. However lonely your suffering feels, you are not alone.

You are at war, but you are not alone. God is with you, and he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7) — and Peter says more: “Resist [the devil], firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world” (1 Peter 5:9). Fight Satan’s onslaught of lies knowing that you are shoulder to shoulder with an army of other believers.

You may not know someone suffering the same thing as you in your immediate context, but you are not alone among Christians in the world and in history. God has cared for them, and he wants you to know he will care for you, too. And while the needs around you may not be identical, they are real, and often intense and overwhelming. The military strategy for a needy, hurting, and embattled Christian community reads, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

God’s infinite wealth and power will meet and provide for God’s weak and suffering people with God’s relentless compassion and care when they are gathered together around and clinging to God’s word, especially his promises.

5. God will not only take away your suffering, but he will heal every wound and restore everything good forever.

Suffering will not be the lasting note of your life. If you joyfully humble yourself in God’s hands and plan, he will exalt you soon enough. On that day, “after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).

We will suffer for a moment (when compared with eternity), and then be restored from all our brokenness, confirmed against all our uncertainty, strengthened from all our weakness, and established in all our glory by our God. In the place of our broken and painful existence on earth will be a never-ending experience of the greatest Joy you’ve ever known or tasted (Psalm 16:11).


Three Ways to Love Your Imperfect Husband

Kim Cash Tate / November 3, 2015
Three Ways to Love Your Imperfect Husband

Sometimes it seems we could fulfill our biblical role as wives a lot easier if our husbands would simply do what they are called to do. If they would cultivate a stronger prayer life, we would feel better about following their lead. If they were growing through regular study of Scripture, we would be honored to submit. If they loved us as Christ loved the church, we would shower them with respect.

But our calling doesn’t hinge upon how faithfully our husbands are walking out theirs. We stand before the Lord alone, and we do all as unto him. And the reality is that it’s easier to see where someone else is lacking — especially when that someone lives under the same roof, with habits and idiosyncrasies we’ve dissected for years. We can become nit-picky and critical about where they need to be and miss the myriad shortcomings we possess ourselves.

Still, it is a very real issue if our husbands are not cultivating spiritual disciplines such as prayer and Bible study. And if love is lacking, it’s downright heartbreaking. How do we set aside our own hurt and frustration and live out our calling as Christian wives? How do we follow a shepherd who is not adequately shepherding? Here are three ways to love your imperfect husband.

1. Pray for Your Husband

As wives, prayer is our strongest ministry toward our husbands. The mindset is not, “I guess I’ll pray since nothing else is working.” Rather, it is a mind that is fully persuaded that prayer should be first and foremost — and that it’s the most powerful and effective service we can offer our husbands.

We are able to pray for our husbands as no one else can. We see his ups and downs, his moods and attitudes, and his strengths and vulnerabilities. We see what he devotes his time to. By his words and actions, we see his heart toward the things of God. What we do with this insight is key. We can attempt to “fix” things ourselves — with nudges that turn to nagging, or correction that morphs to criticism. Or we can trust the Good Shepherd to do the work in his timing and in his power.

Prayer invites Jesus to dwell in the midst of the cares and concerns we have for our husbands. It changes the dynamic. We’re no longer focusing on the problem but on the one who can solve it. We are reminded that nothing is too hard for God. Just as the king’s heart is like channels of water in the Lord’s hand, such that he can turn it wherever he will (Proverbs 21:1), our husband’s heart is fully accessible and pliable in the hand of the Lord. He’s able to turn his heart toward him. Through our prayers, we join forces with our husbands to bring about change.

Praying for our husbands does a work in our own hearts as well. Our hearts are softened as we intercede. We gain humility and compassion as we realize that we both, husband and wife, are flawed and in desperate need of grace. This is especially significant if one’s husband does not know Jesus as Lord. Our prayers are a fresh reminder of the saving grace we received, which God is able to pour out on our husbands to bring about redemptive change.

2. Encourage Your Husband

Being called by God as head of the home is not an enviable burden. Our husbands shoulder expectations and responsibilities before God that are immense, including the depth to which they are called to love. Wives are called simply to love their husbands (Titus 2:4), while husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25). No matter how strong one’s walk with God, sacrificial love is a daunting standard. Indeed, the breadth of the divine standard for husbands — of love, of providing for the family, of guiding the family spiritually — may cause them more stress than we realize.

Although our eyes naturally fall on areas in which our husbands need to improve, we should instead look for ways to bless them with encouragement. This is not necessarily easy, especially if we’ve seen a pattern of certain behavior over time. We may be skeptical about any positive change. It won’t last might drift through our minds. We may even be tempted to belittle efforts that our husbands make, regarding them as inadequate.

But as we intercede for our husbands, our attitude and actions should line up with the end goal. We should believe that change is possible and encourage even the small movements we see. As we speak words that build up and give grace (Ephesians 4:29), we not only revitalize our husbands, but our marriage as well.

3. Die to Yourself

The only way we can truly walk out our calling as wives despite our own hurts and frustrations is to die to self. This is our ultimate call as believers: to daily crucify our flesh so that Christ may live fully through us. And when Christ is living through us, we experience the surpassing greatness of his power.

God knows we cannot be the wives he calls us to be in our own strength — and thankfully, he does not expect us to. When self gets out of the way, his Spirit takes over, infusing us with immense grace and strength. We are able to pray when we’re tired of praying and to love when the “feeling” eludes.

Grace highlights ways we can encourage, seasons our speech, and quiets our spirits. And as we wait on Jesus to answer our prayers for our husbands, his grace keeps our eyes fixed on him, our Good Shepherd, the one we are ultimately called to follow. Here lies an eternal treasure. As we walk in obedience to our calling as wives, we find ourselves in blessed fellowship with our Lord.


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