You’re Not Alone In The Fight

Are you tired?

I am.

Are you hitting the point of the semester where you’re drained and bearing the weight of all that is on your plate?

I am.

It’s that time.

Late September.

The fun of the holidays isn’t quite here, North Texas hasn’t got the memo that today is the start of Fall, and the burden of busy calendars is upon us.

Coming in hot to steal away my ability to rest is some battles with insomnia. There are the occasional nights where I’m up for hours in the middle of the night for no reason other than the burdens of ministry (the pro of this is extra time in God’s Word, when I take the step of getting up and reading rather than just laying there). I see the light, but I also come face to face with the darkness that many are facing. There are moments where I feel like my tiny, feeble light is about to be extinguished by the darkness I battle every day.

You may not be in vocational ministry, but I know you’re likely prone to encounters with the weighty darkness of this world.

My problem is that I all too often try to bear this weight alone.

Thank God for friends who draw me back from the front lines, who remind me that I’m not in the fight alone, who remind me that discipleship is a team sport.

Discipleship is a team sport, guys! We need each other deeply and desperately. None of us, not a single one of us, are capable of doing the work of discipleship on our own in our individual communities. There’s enough work to go around.

We’re not alone in the fight.

The Lord’s been showing me this reality as of late. One through a pretty obvious text out of 2 Timothy, and secondly through a simple phrase at the start of an often-ignored letter of Paul.

Let me show you what He’s been showing me.

First off, we see in 2 Timothy a letter from a passionate missionary to his son in the faith. Timothy was at a point where he was deciding whether or not to go on in ministry. He was being pushed to and fro by the burdens of following Jesus above all else. He was a soldier of Christ (2 Timothy 2:3).

Quick side-note. The easy life is the life of a man or woman who is not sold out in allegiance to King Jesus, ready to do His work. I’ve been there. I’ve been churchy, religious, a lover of God, but not all the way in as His soldier. Now I know that utter allegiance to Him is the hard life. But that’s also the worthwhile and joyful life. 

Paul sends him a letter of deep encouragement. He first reminds Timothy of his own care for him (1:2, my beloved child) and then he reminds Timothy of the heritage of faith that he had (1:5-6, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice). This was how Paul brought encouragement to Timothy for him to continue being resilient. He told Timothy to look behind him. See who came before him. See who invested in him personally. See who finished the race, and see who are still trucking along.

Man, as I’ve done that, I’ve felt such a fire in my soul to keep moving forward one day at at time.

Odus Compton. Brady Sharp. Zack Randles. Jeff Roach. Joshua Tompkins.

These are just a handful of men who have poured into me, who are still in the fight against the darkness.

Their faith, perseverance, and endurance keep me going.

Paul told Timothy to look behind him to those who came before.

Like I said, I’ve found another source of encouragement in a pretty random place.

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. – 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2

You read 2 Thessalonians as of late?

If you’re like me, probably not.

This short little letter from Paul to the church at Thessalonica is pretty ignored at times. And while there is a ton of beneficial truths laced throughout the book, this opening greeting reminded me of something.

When you feel like you’re alone in the fight, look beside you.

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy.

If we’re not careful, we can slide over to the belief that Paul was superhuman.

But, here we have a reminder that he had a team.

Sometimes this team abandoned him, sometimes this team didn’t get along well with him, but a team he had all the same.

Silas and Timothy did ministry with him, and they were a part of his letter of exhortation to the church in Thessalonica.

The Lord regularly has to remind me to look around me. To open my eyes to the men and women in my church who are fighting beside me, and the men and women in our community who are doing the same. I could list out a plethora of names of men and women who are chasing after Jesus as King, who are serving as soldiers in His battalions.

So I ask again.

Are you tired?

Are you worn out with life, not to mention the fight for the Kingdom of God?

Look behind you and look beside you.

You are not alone in the fight. Look behind you to those who came before, and look beside you to those who fight by your side.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

 

Fight Night

Last night, there was apparently some big UFC fight. For hours leading up to the event, there was copious amounts of commentary, conjecture, and conversation. The bout itself lasted no longer than twenty minutes. I personally don’t see the appeal of paying money to watch grown men and women beat the snot out of each other. UFC fights are intriguing however. Sometimes the opponents are evenly matched fighters, trading blows as the fight drags on into the later rounds. Other times however, one fighter either gets a good jump or they are simply better pound for pound, as KO’s and TKO’s happen abruptly, sometimes within a minute or thirty seconds of the fight beginning.

I believe that many of us have a view of spiritual warfare that is more like the former type of fight I was describing. I know that for me personally, it’s easy to fall into the mindset that good and evil, life and death, darkness and light, God and Satan are evenly matched opponents duking it out on a grand stage. What the book of Job teaches us however is that God and Satan are not equally matched opponents. Rather, Satan is indescribably pathetic in comparison to the majesty and magnitude of God.

Let’s dive in together. If you haven’t got the chance to read it yet, you can catch my latest blog about Job via this link: A Man Named Job. It will tell you who Job was, where he lived, and what he did.

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. – Job 1:6 

If you are familiar with the book of Job, then you know what’s about to happen. Job’s picture-perfect life is about to come falling apart around him, and his faith will be tested through tribulation. Before we see the trials come, we get this sort of court room scene. God is enthroned on high, and the ‘sons of God’ (think angelic beings) are gathering around Him. We read that Satan is ‘among’ them. Now, in Hebrew literature like we have in the Bible, this word can imply an intruder (I just had surgery, so this week I’ve had a lot of smoothies. So think, spinach was among the apples and strawberries. It’s not supposed to be there. Vegetables are gross). Satan is not welcome here, as if he is a regular character before the throne of God.

God quickly questions Satan about what he has been up to (v. 7). The enemy of our souls tells us that he has been roving throughout the world, going to and fro. This is not a casual stroll. We know from other Scripture that Satan prowls the world like a lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Also, be reminded that God is not in need of a report, in need of knowledge. He is omniscient.

Verse eight is when thinks get tricky.

God brings up Job.

That was a component of this story that hadn’t really hit me before, until recently when it was brought to my attention. Satan doesn’t bring Job up. God does. Knowing all that is to follow, the total breakdown of Job’s cosmos, it’s hard to wrap my head around that God initiates it. God sets the ball in motion that will lead to seemingly abject and unnecessary suffering for a man that God Himself describes as “my servant. . . a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil”. If you find yourself confused, struggling with this, perfect. This book is for you. The book of Job is for those of us who can’t seem to wrap our heads around suffering.

I remember often reading the start to the book of Job and wishing that God would describe me the way He described Job. God seems to be so proud of the character of Job. There seems to be affection even, or at least that’s how I would read it. So I would clinch my fists, grit my teeth, and strive to be the man who turned away from evil and instead sought God. As a twenty-five year old, it’s already starkly clear to me that I will never be that. I will never be the blameless and upright man that the angelic hosts know of for my righteousness and purity of heart.

At least, not of my own accord.

There is so much freedom in realizing that Job is to point us to Jesus.

Jesus is the better Job.

What we are going to see in the book of Job is that Job is going to sin, struggle, and fall short in the midst of intense suffering.

Jesus faced far worse and yet remained solid in His righteousness, His fear of God, and His turning away from evil.

Because of Jesus, I don’t have to face the standard of being like Job.

Let’s move forward.

Satan responds to God by playing Devil’s Advocate (pun intended). In verses nine and ten, Satan lays the gauntlet. He questions the sincerity of Job’s faith and His righteousness. I mean, of course someone is going to follow God faithfully if that gets him or her wealth and prosperity and power and prominence. But remove all that, remove blessings, and no one will praise God.

But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face – Job 1:11

Here’s the real rub of the book.

The basic questions of the book are raised. God’s character and Job’s are both slighted. Is God so good that he can be loved for himself, not just for his gifts? Can a man hold on to God when there are no benefits attached? – Francis Andersen

In verse twelve, God accepts the challenge laid forth by the enemy of our souls. The only caveat is that Job’s physical health cannot be touched.

As hard as it is to wrap your head around, all that is taking place in the book of Job is happening due to God’s sovereign hand and loving kindness. This suffering that is looming over the horizon does not catch God off guard.

Any suffering that you are facing doesn’t catch Him off guard either. There is certainly suffering that doesn’t seem to have a purpose, suffering we will not understand this side of eternity. But suffering is not wasted. As we keep going through the book of Job together I hope that you see that.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach