Staying strong when things get tough: don’t we all want to?
Paying bills, meeting deadlines, dealing with change, handling relationships, coping with loss. We can easily feel as if we are sinking in quicksand. Bookstores and eBooks online are overflowing with self-help resources to help people navigate the snares and pitfalls of daily life. For my money, I have found that there is no better wisdom for staying strong, and also for making it through life joyfully, than the wisdom found in the Scriptures.
We do not have to struggle and fall every time we are challenged by something that comes along to overwhelm us. We can meet the challenges of life with confidence because we are meant to live life with joy and abundance. Jesus said:
I have come in order that you might have life—and life in all its fullness.
John 10:10b (GNT)
The Scriptures provide us with an effective road map to follow as we move forward in life as believers. A favorite passage of mine in this roadmap for becoming strong (and staying strong) is found in the Book of Ephesians, which teaches that life is, in fact, a spiritual battle for which we absolutely must equip ourselves:
Finally, be strong in the Lord, relying on his mighty strength. Put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the Devil’s strategies.
For our struggle is not against human opponents, but against rulers, authorities, cosmic powers in the darkness around us, and evil spiritual forces in the heavenly realm.
Christan author and speaker Becky Capps aptly describes the concept of “spiritual battle” and the need to prepare for it:
“Like it or not, every single one of us is involved. The battleground for this intense spiritual struggle is not some piece of earthly estate; it is the human heart. . . Naturally it stands to reason that because these battles are of a spiritual nature, the weapons we employ must also be spiritual.”1
In Ephesians 6:14-18, Apostle Paul describes the six essential “spiritual weapons” that form the full armor of God: 1) belt of truth; 2) breastplate of righteousness; 3) shoes of peace; 4) shield of faith; 5) helmet of salvation, and 6) sword of the spirit. Minister and popular speaker Kyle Winkler defines what each piece of “armor” represents and how it is designed to help us stay strong in day-to-day life. Here are key excerpts:
Belt of Truth: Truth is foundational—it’s what grounds us. The truth of God’s Word is the only standard by which we can recognize and reject Satan’s lies.
Breastplate of Righteousness: Satan seeks to assault us at our core. His whispers and accusations are aimed to corrupt the parts of your inner self to steal your identity and replace it with his defeated one. But when you put on Jesus Christ, you put on this ‘breastplate of righteousness,’ which covers you in His identity.
Shoes of Peace: Like the historical shoes [of the soldier], our spiritual “shoes of peace” provide us with the ability to face rough or unknown situations knowing that we won’t slip from our positions. In Christ we have the protection of His presence, which is peace.
Shield of Faith: The soldier’s shield was a sizeable article. . .designed to protect the soldier’s entire body from danger that might accost him from any direction. Likewise, in spiritual warfare the attacks of Satan come at us from all different directions. . .remembering God’s goodness in the past is the key to confidence in the future. Now use this confidence as your shield, and lift it high. “God’s got this” should be your unwavering expectation.
Helmet of Salvation: The soldier’s helmet was a single piece of iron molded to fit his head. We may not be able to control everything that creeps into our minds, but we can take these thoughts captive by replacing them with Scripture.
Sword of the Spirit: The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. We use God’s Word as a weapon when we speak it. . .it raises a spiritual sword in the air that alerts Satan that you’re “armed and dangerous.” Because you know who you are in Christ, he has no chance and might as well back off.
Stop all the fighting with this impenetrable armor, and stand and live in His victory! 2
Learning these spiritual survival skills has proven to be an ongoing process for me. It takes some time to “forge and fashion” the pieces of this spiritual armor and to remember to keep each piece polished and in good working order. And when we commit ourselves to do this, we know we can stay strong in daily life wearing the full armor of God.
1 Capps, B. (2015). Armor of God. Unpublished study presented at Moon Valley Bible Church, Phoenix, AZ.
2 Winkler, K. (n.d.) Spiritual Warfare. Retrieved from KyleWinkler.org. website: http://www.kylewinkler.org/articles/spiritual-warfare/full-armor-of-god/