Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
What troubles you? What pains you? What struggles lie before you in the trials and the tribulations that you have faced? Has this world not sought to break you, to rob you of rest and peace in the evil that it has cast before? Have you not known sorrow and misfortune, troubles and distress as miseries have found you, perhaps as you have least expected them?
The Devil, dear brothers and sisters, will stalk you. He is like a roaring lion hunting his prey, as he searches for the wounded of the flock of the Lord, as he looks for the injured of the herded, he seeks to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) In strength and prowess, the expert hunter, skilled in all forms of treachery and deceit, he rushes upon the children of God, seeking those whom he can harm the most.
The Devil, dear brothers and sisters, will wage war against you. A skilled tactician, be not lulled into a false sense of confidence, for, as we have lived but a few years, Satan has lived a millennia, causing the fall of the faithful in his wickedness, even as he deceived our first father and mother in the Garden. (Genesis 3) Those who have walked hand in hand with the Lord and looked upon His face have stumbled and fallen as the Devil has woven his craftiness within their spirits, and caused their minds to stray.
People will look to the struggles that they face, to the pains that they have known, the troubles that have befallen them and they will call out to God, to their Lord and their Creator, “God, why have you let this happen to me? Why have you let this wickedness befall me?” This is trick of the crafty hunter who lies in wait, who tricks his prey into believing that all is peaceful around them, this is the deception of the accomplished schemer who will divert the attention from himself as he inflicts himself on his victim. He wishes nothing more than for the children of God to look upon their sorrow and to see the hand of a punishing Father or a vindictive and cruel God, to see their trials and their troubles and to believe that the Lord, far distant, far removed from their lives, has allowed this to happen to them.
Yet consider rightly the source of all that causes pain, the source that, through deception, and treachery, through the most vile of betrayals, allowed sin and death into this world, causing for us every injury we have known. Without the temptation of Satan himself, even now we would not know depression, anxiety, body issues, bullying or abuse, mental, physical or emotional. We would not know death, nor would the sorrow of loss touch our very heart, causing them to break with the tears that we shed.
Blessedly though, God, our Father, has never let sorrow be an end of hope, but a beginning of mercy, grace and love. He who, for us and our salvation, sent His only begotten Son, Christ Jesus to conquer the power of sin, death and the Devil, (Galatians 4:3-5) walks with us as He provides for us the refuge from all the pain and hurt that this world can bring. (Leviticus 23:11-13) Never one to abandon or to forsake, whatever darkness that the Devil seeks to cast upon us, inflicting his worst, God is the light that cuts through that long night as He grants to us grace and mercy. Boundless and limitless in the love that He has for us, His Spirit is the fire in the darkness that warms our souls and guides our way.
As He was that flaming pillar for Israel to lead them through the desert from the bondage of their dark captivity, so too now is He for us and for the sake of our freedom. “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” (Psalm 36:9) In sacred love He is the refuge and the vindication of the poor and the afflicted, the peace and the compassion for the wounded and the broken, the confidence and the love for the troubled and the hunted as they seek rest in their affliction and hope in their struggles.
See then His power rightly, and trust in the promises that He has made to you. Heavy may your burdens be, weighing down on you as they crush your spirit and wound your soul. Weak may troubles and sorrows leave you in the trials and tribulations of this world. Misfortune, pain and loss Satan may heap upon you as He seeks to ensnare you. Yet none of this has power over you, for, in your defense, there is one greater than the Devil and all of his powers, one who descended to hell to proclaim the Gospel and conquer its hold over us.
When then pain, and sorrow comes to you, when the Devil roars, seeking to wound you with despair, that he might devour you, when he seeks to use your weakness against you, in the darkness that he brings to you, declare then to him, “Yes, I am weak. Yes, I am vulnerable. Yet, I look not to my power nor to my strength, for I am not sufficient for my own salvation. I look to Christ Jesus, my ever present help, my savior from all distress. Where He stands in the power of the Lord, there I am also. Come with me what you will, in Him you have no power over me.”
Then, though the world may seek still to break you and though the evil one may seek still you fall, you shall be bold in your faith as the righteousness of the Lord washes over you, healing you in the wondrous power of His Spirit. In His promises the yoke of your burdens shall be broken as He proclaims you to be free in the boundless love and compassion that He has for you.
Now may the peace of the Lord that transcends all human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus even unto life everlasting, Amen.