I don’t think the shield of faith is supposed to give you clenched jaws.
But judging by my tense shoulder muscles and that old familiar TMJ ache, that’s where I’ve been attempting to carry the shield of faith this week.
People hear “spiritual warfare” and they think of head-spinning, pea-soup-spitting, gutteral-noise-making, wild-eyed people requiring some super-hired holy person with great Scriptural knowledge.
Warfare in the spiritual realm doesn’t usually look like that.
“Fiery darts,” by the way, translates as “missile, dart, javelin, arrow.” We’re talking weapons of all sizes. Sometimes you get missiles, sometimes darts.
The missiles are ones that we often think to pull out the shield for – “Run for shelter! That’s a biggie!”
The darts? Not so much.
- “What am
- going to do about this?”
- is that going to come from?”
- “How can
- take care of that?”
Clenched jaws. Sore muscles.
What is it about the little things that makes me forget that I already have a shield of faith?
When we see the Greek word “faith” used in the Bible, it is always from God. It is never something that can be produced by people. That thrills me. I’m not so great at this on my own. The Roman shield to which Paul referred was big. I have full protection.
“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is he that overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5)
Cool, huh? And there’s more.
Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
My problems right now aren’t huge. Not in the grand scheme of things. But they are big to me. And you better believe that the enemy is going to utilize every negative thing in my life to make me worry, to fill me with anxiety, to make me walk around with a clenched jaw.
Fiery darts. Shield of faith. Flaming missiles. Shield of faith.
And Paul said it quenches them. Extinguishes them. Puts them out.
Neither Paul nor Jesus said the problems automatically go away. The darts (or missiles) aren’t necessarily the problems themselves. Usually, it is the way the enemy uses your problems. Jesus said we “will have tribulation.” But He promises peace – “that in Me you may have peace.”
Just the word itself brings a calming breath.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)
Paul says the shield of faith extinguishes the attacks of “the wicked one.”
And because we don’t always recognize problems as attacks, we don’t always realize we need to fight them.
Life’s problems may be just that. Life’s problems. But we are told to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith…” (1 Peter 5:8)
He is going to take advantage of every situation.
What didn’t strike me until writing this, is that this verse immediately follows the one I have claimed as my own since fourth grade:
“casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
Another breath. The jaw relaxes.
The preface to that is verse six: “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,”
Cares and tribulations come. We are assured of that.
I have to humble myself before God.
Then when I’m humble enough to realize that I can’t fix it on my own, I’m able to cast my cares on Him. In faith.
“Can’t do this on my own, Lord.”
- “God, please, help me to trust.”
- “Father, will you fix this? It’s a mess.”
Because He cares for me. He wants me to. I’m really not being a pain when I ask for His help.
That’s all part of vigilance. Of being steadfast in the faith.
It’s hard to hold up my shield of faith when I’m holding on to a pack of troubles!