Standing Strong In Tough Times
Recently I wrote a devotional entitled, “Moving Forward In Tough Times.” The willingness to keep moving forward is certainly a necessary part of a healthy faith. But as most of us know from personal experience there are also those days when just standing is the victory. In fact, the Bible repeatedly appeals to the need to stand. For example we find many verses such as this one from Ephesians, “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” The enemy tries his best to knock us off our feet. Adversity and trouble rage against our soul like a hurricane seeking to blow us over. And in the end, once you have done everything you know to do, God declares to us that if we are still standing, we can count it a victory.
In the context of Psalm 46 we are reminded of the importance of standing. Remember the scene? The nations have joined together to lay siege against God’s holy city. The only thing that stands between God’s people and their enemies are the walls of the city. As long as the walls remain standing the people are safe. The enemy repeatedly attempts to breach the walls. He attacks. He pounds. He seeks to pull down. From his vantage point all it takes is just one breakthrough at any given point and he can pour through like a flood. For the security of the people it is essential that the walls remain standing. Their victory depends on the walls. Their very survival depends on the walls.
Now, here’s the important consideration. The walls do you no good at all if you are standing on the wrong side. I know. It seems so elementary that it’s almost insulting. But the truth is that 20 years of pastoral ministry have taught me that many people just don’t get it. God is our stronghold. He is our refuge. He is our safe retreat, our hiding place, our high tower. In Him we are safe and secure from all the attacks of the enemy. But don’t miss that key phrase. IN HIM!!! A stronghold is of absolutely no advantage if you’re not inside the walls. Outside the walls? You are sure to fall victim to the plans and purposes of the enemy. The only real place where we can be confident of victory is within the stronghold.
So what does “in Him” mean? There is that theological sense in which I am presently positioned in Him. It is a spiritual reality that has already taken place. I am in Him because of the completed work that was accomplished through His death, burial and resurrection. The “stronghold” has already been built. My salvation is secure. No weapon that is formed against me can prosper because of my position in Christ. But what does it mean to stay in Him on a daily basis?
Here are just a few quick thoughts on my part. (This is not meant to be a thesis; so, spare me the emails.) First of all, take a look at some of the spiritual disciplines in your life. If you can’t remember where you last put your Bible, if prayer is something that only happens for you when the pastor tells everyone to bow their heads, if your idea of church attendance does not extend beyond Easter and Christmas then chances are very good that you are living outside the walls of the stronghold. I’m not saying you’re not saved. Just saying you probably need to check yourself. The enemy is licking his chops right now.
Next, take an honest look at your lifestyle. If nobody believes it when you tell them you go to church, if your secret sins have become daily habits, if godliness and holiness have become foreign concepts in your life then chances are very likely that you are living outside the walls of the stronghold. I’m not saying you’re not saved. But I am saying that you need to seriously consider the question. The heart of the Gospel is change. If any person is in Christ, all things have become new. Old things have passed away. Don’t fool yourself. If you are living on the inside of the stronghold, your life is going to be different. Not perfect. But it will certainly be different. If your life looks the same as the lost, then chances are good you are outside the walls. Forget licking his chops. The enemy is chewing you up.
I could probably go on for quite a while but I think we all get the point. Standing strong in tough times is ultimately an issue of standing in the right place. If we are standing within the stronghold of God, we will remain standing no matter the storm or trouble. The danger comes when we step outside the stronghold. The only question that remains is a personal one. Where are you standing right now? Tough times come to us all. Trials and difficulty are a part of life. God sends the rain to the just and the unjust. The same storm came to both men (the one who built his home on the rock was not exempt). But in the end the one whose house was still standing was the one on the stronghold. Be honest. Evaluate where you are standing right now. Tired of being blown about and blown over by the enemy? Make sure you are inside the stronghold, that you are “in Him.” When we are in Him we will be able to stand no matter how tough the times.