Lent Reflection day 15
It’s a stock story-line of fights in films: two men fight, one seems to be overcome, and the victor gloats. But as he draws close to deliver the final stroke, the other revives suddenly and unexpectedly and finishes him off with one blow. Or stab, or shot, or whatever. Unseen Warfare has a message for us today, don’t be the guy who gloats. Or relaxes, not even a little. As soon as we do, the demons we think we’ve defeated rise up with new energy and find us undefended. That’s another stock story-line of films, horror films. Just as it looks as if the good people have destroyed the monster and they collapse in exhaustion, the monster rises up again stronger than ever. Then they run the credits and we wait for a sequel!
When the credits of our Lenten journey are running, brothers and sisters, every single name should be Jesus Christ. There’s always a sequel, that’s the nature of the demons. But it’s also the nature of Jesus to hear us when we call to Him and rise up in our defense. This is good news for us, because the demons attack us constantly, and that constancy can sometimes make us waver in our commitment. As Unseen Warfare says in the fifteenth chapter: So you must never be afraid, if you are troubled by a flood of thoughts, that the enemy is too strong against you, that his attacks are never ending, that the war will last for your lifetime, and that you cannot avoid incessant downfalls of all kinds. Know that our enemies, with all their wiles, are in the hands of our divine Commander, our Lord Jesus Christ, for Whose honor and glory you are waging war. Since He Himself leads you into battle. He will certainly not suffer your enemies to use violence against you and overcome you, if you do not yourself cross over to their side with your will. He will Himself fight for you and will deliver your enemies into your hands, when He wills and as He wills, as it is written: “For the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you” (Deut.23:14).
The line the war will last for your lifetime captures the idea perfectly. It is possible for us to resist the attacks of the demons for a few moments, or even for part of a day, depending on what we’re doing. But for a full day, or a full week, much less alone for the remainder of our lives? The thought of it may make us tired and discouraged.
This is why the central prayer of the Christian faith asks God to give us this day our daily bread. Some interpret this as meaning that God will give us only what we need to live, but that makes no sense. As I sit here writing this, I can think of a thousand blessings that God has given me that I don’t need in order to live. Rather, when we pray this line, we ask God to give us the strength to overcome sin only for today, only for right now. Then, we pray the prayer again and again, and each time God gives us the strength to resist. As Unseen Warfare says: Thus, since we are always surrounded by so many enemies, whose hatred of us is so bitter, we can expect no peace or respite from them, no cessation or postponement of attacks, but must be ready for an onslaught at any moment and, when it comes, must immediately engage the enemy with courage. Naturally it would have been better, if we had not originally opened the doors of our being and let enemies and passions enter our heart and soul; but since they have already found their way into us, we cannot afford to be negligent, but must arm ourselves against them to drive them out of us. They are shameless and stubborn and will not leave, unless driven out by force.
Today we begin the third week of this year’s Lenten journey, brothers and sisters. Let us call out to God today, every day, every moment, for his strength and protection.