I’ve been struggling with this passage from Paul’s letter to the people of Ephesus since last week.
Ephesians 6 The Whole Armor of God
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Usually, when I preach about the spirit world, whether the Holy Spirit or otherwise, I find that it messes with my head. I’ve been seeing things out of the corner of my eyes. I went through an emotional dark night of the soul. I had a wicked fight with Carol.
Distractions all. I should know by now. I should prepare myself better. Of course, the “shoulds” are a distraction too.
How to stay focused and strong in the LORD? When my life comes apart at the seams, when I most need some armour, I end up naked and cold.
Waiting for my car to be repaired yesterday, I even resorted to reading my horoscope – looking for something hopeful. It predicted mostly rain and thunderstorms – with but one ray of light. “A new love interest will come into your life.”
“Do you mind if I sit here beside you?” she asked.
“Not if you don’t mind” I replied.
“You seem familiar to me.” She said looking closer at me.
I confessed “I’m the minister”.
“Oh yes” her eyes lit up “you came to the Home”.
I asked her name and she told me her story. Her husband was in the nursing home the last nine months of his life. She’d taken care of him herself for sixteen years until the doctor ordered her to stop and let the professionals take over.
“I’ve had nothing but bad luck ever since.” She stated frankly.
“Like the song” i said “if it wasn’t for bad luck…”
“…I wouldn’t have any luck at all” she finished the old blues lyric – pretty hip for an old babe I thought. We had a good laugh and even the guy at the counter joined in.
“One damn thing after another eh?”
“Yes, well that’s life.” she concluded “I think the Lord sends us these trials to test us.”
“I don’t know who to blame.” I said “but it sure seems like too much some days – the way things just pile on. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you today?”
“The day started beautifully. Birds singing. Nice breakfast. Then I went out to my car and the tire was flat.”
“Yeah? Well, I’ve got you beat. I’m getting two tires repaired.
“You know” she smiled “as bad as things are – someone’s always got it worse.” Then her tone changed and she started down a different road.
“We have so much to be thankful for. No one is looking over our shoulders. What we do – we do for ourselves and have enough to share.”
I’d never heard it put quite like that. “Not everyone in the world can say that.” I agreed “We’re probably one of the most priviledged peoples that ever lived.”
“Why do we keep feeding our young men and women into that hopeless American war in Afghanistan?”
“It’s too bad we didn’t share the education and development dollars back when the Russians left and the people were hurting and only the Taliban were there to help.”
“Like Germany before Hitler” she nodded. “My brothers fought in Europe. They’re gone now. I had seven brothers and sisters and we all turned out alright. I have a son and two daughters and two grandchildren. I’m the last of my generation.”
“Time is precious eh?”
“Yes it is.”
I thanked her for brightening my day.
The guy at the counter charged me half price for the tire repairs.
Just when you figure you’re cornered, in the fight alone, an angel comes your way and puts some trusty weapons in your hand to keep at it.
With grey-haired grannies watching your back, what is there to fear?
“God is strong, and wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way.
(Ephesians 6:10 from The Message version)
Frederich Beuchner sums "Evil" up like this...
"You can reconcile any two of these propositions with each other, but you can’t reconcile all three.
God is all powerful
God is all good
Terrible things happen
The problem of evil is perhaps the greatest single problem for religious faith.
There have been numerous theological and philosophical attempts to solve it, but when it comes down to the reality of evil itself they are none of them worth much. When a child is raped and murdered, the parents are not apt to take much comfort from the explanation (better than most) that since God wants humanity to love freely, humanity must be free to love or not to love and thus free to rape and murder a child if he takes a notion to.
Christian Science solves the problem of evil by saying that it does not exist except as an illusion of mortal mind.
Buddhism solves it in terms of reincarnation and an inexorable reaping the consequences of evil deeds committed in another life.
Christianity, on the other hand, ultimately offers no theoretical solution at all. It merely points to the cross and says that, practically speaking, there is no evil so dark and so obscene – not even this – but that God can turn it to good.
Frederich Buechner“Wishful Thinking” pg.24, Harper & Row 1973
Finally, here's my new favourite Canadian artist - David Myles