Friday, June 19, 2015

Fighting the Good Fight: What Does That Mean, Anyway?

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! I knew it would happen sooner or later! I'm sure I'm one of the last to know, but the definition of "friend" has been updated to include its use as a verb:
"to add (a person) to one's list of contacts on a social-networking website" ("Friend.", n.d. Web. 15 June 2015.)
 I have fewer than two hundred "friends" on social media, and only one social media account. I have deleted a few "friends" along the way, and been deleted more than once myself. I guess I adhere to a more literal definition of the word rather than the "I will share with you -- a complete stranger -- all of my stellar and not so stellar moments, children's school photos (complete with location tags), underwear selfies, upcoming vacation itineraries, and alcohol-induced statuses" definition. Truly good friends can be hard to find.

I bet things would be different if we had social media for enemies. We could call it "Foebook," or "Fight Club" -- oh, but then we couldn't talk about it. People would probably be a little more reluctant to come forward as enemies, but I'm sure there'd be a higher level of integrity. How many of your "friends" or "followers" would you seriously leave at home with your kids? or your cat? You had to think about that, didn't you? But it should be pretty cut and dried if I asked you about your contacts on "Foebook," right? You usually know what you're getting with an antagonist: threat of danger, extreme or constant hostility, a level of opposition up to and including the taking of your life. Everyone knows where they stand.

Nevertheless, it's not easy dealing with enemies or fake friends. Continuing stress and contention is never good for the human body -- physically or emotionally. So how does one surmount what seems to be the insurmountable? How does one gain victory in the battles some of us face daily? How can one fight an "invisible enemy" like disease or loss?

I've been hanging out in 2 Chronicles 20 for a bit. There is just so much to be received from this text, and it's a great handbook for what to do, and what not to do in the face of adversity:

Verse 3a: Go straight to God. Jehoshaphat begged the Lord for guidance. We see in his prayer before the people (v. 6) he knew exactly what he was praying for. Jehoshaphat knew his history; he had familiarized himself with the ways and the will of God. He was able to pray with authority because he knew what he was asking was in complete compliance with God. (But, if you're new at this, don't let a lack of study stop you -- just cry out! God knows your heart.)

Verse 3b, and 4: Don't go it alone. Bring others in with you in corporate prayer and fasting, if necessary. Even Jesus tells us in Mark 9:29, that prayer and fasting are essential in some circumstances.

Verse 18: Thank God for godly counsel and instruction. How did they know that Jahaziels's words had even come from the Lord? Discernment. Ask God for it. The more closely you walk in step with God, the more you will be able to sort these types of things out.

Verse 20: Obey. Meet your foe with praise and thanksgiving for God's faithfulness, protection, and victory!

Verse 25: Reap! So often, I taste the sweetness of victory in Jesus without ever stopping to savor it. I send up a "shout out," pick up most of the good stuff, and when I think I've got enough, I leave the rest behind to head off in the opposite direction so I can tackle the next issue. Judah took THREE DAYS to reap what God had given them in this victory. And I'm sure they had more than their two best guys on it! God has much for those who trust Him. 

Verse 26: Give thanks. Gather everyone you can and thank God. Tell anyone who will listen. Tweet. Text. Facebook -- even Foebook -- whatever! Let people know your God is an awesome God.

Verse 28: Make it official. There is something about sharing victory with your church family in a more formal setting. It is corporate worship, corporate thanksgiving, and one of the ways we are called to encourage others enduring the struggles of this life as well. So head to God's house and celebrate!

Verse 37: Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Sadly, Jehoshaphat didn't stick with the program. We can never vanquish our foes if we take God off His throne; it is because God is on His throne that we can be assured of any victory at all!

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