Dear friends, we know from Psalm 91 that God protects His people from all sorts of accidents, sicknesses and calamities. That is why, often in life and especially now during the on-going pandemic, we seek His protection over our lives. And He does protect those who love Him. But it could be that we have missed out on something more important: God not only protects His people, but He also trains them for battle.
A God who trains us for battle
In one of his psalms, David writes, “Praise the LORD, my protector! He trains me for battle and prepares me for war.” (Psalms 144:1). Again, in another psalm he writes, “He (God) trains me for battle, so that I can use the strongest bow. O LORD, you protect me and save me.” (Psalms 18:34). Therefore, God not only protects us but He also trains us to fight against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world (Ephesians 6:12). St. Paul urges us to put on the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6: 10-17) not only to defend ourselves against the arrows of the devil, but to march forward and attack him. God prepares us for war so that we are able to defeat the enemy and win over as many souls as possible for Christ. Every time we reach out to lost souls by means of prayer and the Word of God, the devil faces defeat. When the seventy-two men returned back from their mission, Jesus said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. (Luke 10:18).
Few Christians dare to attack
Sadly, many Christians today are only engaged in defending themselves against the Devil's attacks. That is because they are only thinking about themselves. They are very much devoted and pray a lot to God. But they are only concerned about their own life, their loved ones, their business, etc. Whenever they sense any danger coming, their prayers are, “Lord please protect us from the attacks of the evil one, please protect me, please protect my husband/wife, please protect my children, my business, etc.” This is how many Christians waste their entire life that God has given them by only trying to defend themselves. There are very few Christians who dare to attack the devil. They are the ones who keep thinking about God's Kingdom, “Lord, what do you want me to do, how can I conquer more souls for you?” They are determined to attack the devil. And God who sees their willingness to fight trains them to use the strongest bow.
Following the example of King Hezekiah
The Bible speaks about King Hezekiah who was faithful to God and trusted in Him (2 Kings 18:5-7a). But besides being loyal and devoted to God, he was also a man who would march out of his comfortable palace in order to attack the enemies of God's people. We read in 2 Kings 18: 8, He defeated the Philistines and raided their settlements, from the smallest village to the largest city, including Gaza and its surrounding territory. The Philistines here are a symbol of the devil. They would attack the Israelites and plunder their fields, steal all their grains, etc. Isn't that what the devil is doing with the people of God till today? Whenever they start growing spiritually, he attacks them and robs them of all the spiritual blessings that God has given them. Jesus describes him as a thief and a murder. (John 8:44, 10:10). And many Christians are used to only being attacked by him. There are very few who go out to attack him as Hezekiah did.
From the smallest village to the large city
Please note the word 'settlements' in 2 Kings 8: 8, mentioned previously. It was not ‘one’ settlement of the Philistines that Hezekiah attacked. He attacked ‘many’ settlements. And in each settlement, he attacked all villages and cities, from the smallest to the largest. He even attacked Gaza, which was considered to be the strongest of all cities at that time. In this way, Hezekiah dealt a mighty blow to the Philistines. Using the words of the psalmist in Psalm 18:34, we can say without doubt that he used the strongest bow. In the same way, each of us is capable of dealing a mighty blow to the devil. God is waiting to give us great victory but we must be determined to attack the devil using the strongest bow as Hezekiah did. The fact is, even among the few who dare to attack, there will always be those who are very content with attacking a few small villages and that too according to their mood, availability and convenience. They do a little evangelisation work here and there and then they give themselves a holiday. Such Christians ultimately end up becoming like those who only defend themselves, “Lord, please protect us from the attacks of the evil one, please protect me, etc.” God has not called us for that. He has called us to attack the settlements of the devil, from the smallest village to the largest city. He has called us to use the strongest bow.
Forgetting your own trials
Attacking the devil must always be on the mind of every Christian – even in the midst of trials. At one time, David was running away from King Saul because he was trying to kill him. It was the most trying moment of his life. But please note what he does even though Saul was closely following him. David heard that the Philistines were attacking the town of Keilah and were stealing the newly harvested grain. So he asked the LORD, "Shall I go and attack the Philistines?" "Yes," the LORD answered. "Attack them and save Keilah." But David's men said to him, "We have enough to be afraid of here in Judah; it will be much worse if we go to Keilah and attack the Philistine forces!" So David consulted the LORD again, and the LORD said to him, "Go and attack Keilah, because I will give you victory over the Philistines." So David and his men went to Keilah and attacked the Philistines; they killed many of them and took their livestock. And so it was that David saved the town. (1 Samuel 23:1-5). It is very clear from what we have just read – God wants to save as many souls as possible from the clutches of the devil. He is only looking out for those who dare to deal a mighty blow to the devil even when they are in the worst moments of their life.
It is God who gives the victory
Defeating the devil is no big deal for God because it is He who gives the victory. We must only be willing to go and attack as David did even when circumstances were not so favourable for him. Consider the example of St. Paul. The letter written by him to the Philippians was written at time while he was in prison. In fact, he had heavy chains fastened round his hands and feet. But he writes in that letter… I want you to know, my friends, that the things that have happened to me have really helped the progress of the gospel. As a result, the whole palace guard and all the others here know that I am in prison because I am a servant of Christ. (Philippians 1:12-13). Nothing could stop Paul from winning souls for Christ, not even imprisonment. In whatever situation you may be in, if you are a Christian who is determined to win as many souls for Christ, you will always hear the voice of God saying to you, "Go and attack”.
The recent pandemic has been the most trying moment for the Church all over the world. It has been a trying moment for priests, for nuns and for the laity as well in their work of winning more souls for Christ and disciple-building. It has been a trying moment for Lay Associations like ours. Due to the need for maintaining social distancing, the usual events organised by the Crusaders in halls and public places such as prayer meetings, retreats, Gospel evangelisation, etc. came to a halt. But does it prevent us from attacking the devil and winning souls for Christ? No! Not at all! The call of God still remains the same, "Go and attack, because I will give you victory over the devil."