“Contend, LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me.”
That’s how David started Psalms 35. It’s so encouraging to think that we have a god who will get personally involved in our struggles. We NEVER have to fight alone. If we ask, God will be right there at our side, fighting with us.
And that means a lot to me, because I can feel alone as I struggle with depression, health challenges, insecurities and concern for loved ones.
The dictionary definition of fight reads: “to take part in a violent struggle involving the exchange of physical blows or the use of weapons.”
That was certainly what David was involved in, and wanted of God in Ps 35 —
Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me. . .
May they be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the LORD driving them away . . .
may ruin overtake them by surprise– may the net they hid entangle them, may they fall into the pit, to their ruin.
But it doesn’t sound like my life. I have trials, but I’m not in a smack down.
And then again, I am.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms..” (Eph 6:10)
There’s a grueling battle going on that Satan wants me to ignore. Behind the scenes, he is constantly plotting, constantly working destruction.
And I tend to coast through life, oblivious. I mean, I know I’m going through some challenges, but I forget that I’m under attack at the heart level.
I don’t see the lies and deceptions, which are Satan’s main weapons.
I don’t see the way Satan warps my desires and thinking.
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. II Peter 2:11
It’s easy to see some of the desires I shouldn’t have. I know not to be selfish, like this:
But other things are harder to identify. Like this:
These are some of the harmful desires that trick me: wanting personal glory, to be in control, to please people, to be comfortable, to avoid conflict, and to be perfect. Ack! I think I’m doing good, until I take a magnifying glass to my heart and realize how much these desires are tangled in my motivations, taking me in the wrong direction.
So I’m trying to focus on good desires instead: wanting God to be glorified, his will to be done, to love him and make him smile.
Another good desire is the desire to see and hear God. That’s what David asked for in verse 3, “Say to me, ‘I am your salvation.’”
David knew God had his back, but sometimes he needed reassurance. We’re all that way. Wouldn’t it be great if, right now, God put a hand on either side of our face, looked us in the eye and told us straight out, “I am your salvation. Calm down. I’ve got this.”
But we don’t see or hear that reassurance as often as we’d like. Because, just like Satan, God often works behind the scenes.
I read a great story recently on Facebook. A sister in Brazil named Taraneh Matos shared that when she became a disciple, her father was very much against it. He cut her off, and it was heartbreaking. She prayed for their relationship to be restored. One day she was looking through some old photographs, and saw a picture of her dad running in a race. Running next to him was a man in a HOPE worldwide tee shirt. (HOPE is an organization associated with our fellowship of churches.)
Taraneh cried, and was tremendously encouraged. She related why in her post, “Often God is working on things even before we ask- we are just not there to take a picture of all those moments.“
How many times is the same true for us? How many times is God working on things, but we’re not there to take a picture? How many times is God running alongside us, or alongside a loved one? I would say a lot!! (Taraneh’s father did come around, and their relationship is better. Yay!)
God is with us, working and fighting on our behalf, and we really want to know this. Because we start to see that we’re in over our heads. David knew that, in the physical battle he was fighting, he couldn’t overcome by himself. The same is true for us in the spiritual battle.
For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. . . What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:19, 24)
We have to realize how wretched and desperate we are. Look at what David said in Ps. 35 that he would do when victory came:
My whole being will exclaim,
“Who is like you, Lord?
You rescue the poor from those too strong for them,
the poor and needy from those who rob them.”
David had been anointed king. He was a war hero. Yet he identified himself as poor and needy.
Should we not be the same way? Look at what Jesus said in Revelation 3:
You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Rev 3:17
So this is what I’ve been working on this week. I’m reminding myself that I am poor in spirit. I don’t have to pressure myself to be strong. I just come to God as a beggar, admitting my weakness, and asking him for strength.
I’m realizing that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I need God for so much more than strength and overcoming temptation. I need his guidance and direction. I need his Spirit to fill me with love, joy, peace, patience, and so on. I need his wisdom. I need forgiveness. I need connection with him. I need him to provide for my physical needs. I need him to watch over my loved ones.
Others need him, but they don’t realize it, so I need him to help me pray for them, reach them, and serve them. I need him to work in the world to bring justice and peace, to help the sick, the poor and the oppressed. I need his will to be done.
The cool thing is that becoming poor in spirit is helping me to do things with a better motivation. Because serving God had become about performance, and that meant it was about ME and my efforts.
Now it’s more about God, looking to him always.
I have a long way to go. I forget often.
And, or course, that’s what Satan wants. He wants us to forget how much we need God. He wants us to forget about the invisible smack down. He wants us to forget that God is with us, and will fight for us.
Let’s help one another to remember!
Let’s increase our neediness.
Because the more we need HIM and not SELF, the more we get out of the way, the more God can work and fight on our behalf.
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6