Because the world is not a perfect place and because we’re not perfect people, we will rarely, if ever, experience perfection in our daily lives. No matter how hard we work to make our life one of peace and harmony, the ugly side of humanity will sometimes creep in. With every attempt at tranquility, there will be adversaries to block our path to fulfillment.
We all have adversaries in life, and they come in many sizes and shapes. They may be people like a boss who takes advantage of you or the owner of a competing business. Your adversary might be an organization, or someone who opposes your political views. Maybe it’s the friend who let you down, or the girlfriend who broke your heart. It could even be your parents or your pastor.
The truth is, there is no shortage of people who will challenge you in one way or another, it’s part of being human. The government will let you down, those you place your faith in will occasionally not live up to the lofty place you have placed them and the plans you have made will sometimes be stopped by others thinking only of themselves.
Of course, just because you see someone as your adversary, it doesn’t mean that they’re wrong. Sometimes people oppose others for very sound reasons. If this gives birth to rational debate then it could turn into something very useful. It’s when bad intent and evil objectives are desired that the role of adversary becomes a danger.
Peter warns us of this adversary in His first book warning us to, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Upon every evil you will find the fingerprints of our adversary, the devil. Behind every lie, every cheat and every violence, the devil hides waiting to further his onslaught of humanity.
The devil will always be our greatest adversary. He wants our very soul and will do most anything to gain it. In moments of weakness, he will kindle anger within us and in moments of disappointment he will ignite vengeance. He cares nothing for you personally, he only wants to steal that which is not his. Your life is but a game to him because he couldn’t care less for you.
In these times we cry out to God like the Psalmist, “Give us help against the adversary, for the help of man is vain” (Psalm 60:11 web). We know our strength is limited so we appeal to the Lord to give us His. We reach for any kind of relief because we know that we can’t face our adversaries alone.
Sometimes this brings us immediate satisfaction but sometimes the way to liberation takes a longer path. There are times God will use our adversaries to teach us something, or to make us stronger. Other times He will allow our adversaries to momentarily triumph to achieve a greater purpose in the end and our cry changes to, “How long Lord?”
In times like these, God is looking for our patience and endurance. He longs for our faithfulness in His plan for us, even as we suffer for a while. The lessons we learn promise us future benefits, but we must endure to the end, continuing to show the fruits of the Spirit throughout the process.
While waiting for God’s provision we are to have the courage and faithfulness of the prophets like Isaiah who said, “But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord GOD helps me; who will declare me guilty? Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up” (Isaiah 50:7-9).
In this life there will always be adversaries. Because we are products of a sinful world, its inevitable. They may always be there, but we have a choice as to how we will overcome. In times you face hatred show love. In times of anxiety search for things that will bring you joy. In times of violence seek peace and in times of challenge show patience.
Be kind in the face of anger, good when times are bad, faithful in times of uncertainty and gentle when the world calls you to become coarse. Practice self-control when you want to lash out and trust in God in all things. By doing this you give your adversaries nothing to grab onto. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, help us when our adversaries challenge us and give us patience in the process. Forgive us for those times we played into the devil’s schemes and instill within us a faith that will never wain. Amen.