Two years ago, I had a dream. I knew Father was speaking, but I didn’t understand what He was really saying until later. It’s often like that, isn’t it, friends?
I share this dream today, because that dream answered a “why,” before it came. I believe that the answer is not just for me, but for many others walking roads of pain and distress. The Lord wants us to know His heart. He saw around the bend and prepared my heart.
The dream was this- I was on a Christian campus, and it was springtime. Everyone was what I call “twitterpated.” Remember Bambi? Romance and expectation were in the air. There were all these brides-to-be milling around, each discussing the other’s upcoming weddings. It was pure friendship. There was only joy for each bride and for the other brides, no pettiness. Everyone was as happy for everyone else as they were for themselves. Every detail of the process was being celebrated. Suddenly at the center of the common area, a huge, skinny, ugly lady appeared. She was dressed in a wedding gown and she was calling all the brides to come to her. I knew that she was not a bride, but that she was jealous of the intimacy the brides had. She was planning a cruel attack on them. She had not seen me yet, so I fled for help.
This dream probably has multiple layers of truth that will be relevant at different seasons. A few months later, though, an attack was launched on me. As I was reminded of the dream, the most important thing was that I knew that the attack was cruel, but it is from the enemy. He is jealous of the bride’s intimacy with the Lord. Satan knows the joys of that intimacy. He was once surrounded by the presence and goodness of God. He also knows that the time is drawing near for the wedding feast, and it provokes him to vicious assaults. Beloved, the only way Satan can hurt God is by hurting us. He has struck many low blows.
This may not sound like much of a revelation outside of the experience of a trial. God is good. I am loved by God. The enemy is cruel. It’s Christianity 101. Here’s the thing, though, in the middle of a vicious assault, these are the foundations that the enemy hopes will crumble. Is God really good? Why would a good God allow such suffering to happen to good people?Or if he can’t get us to doubt God’s goodness, maybe the enemy can convince us to listen to his accusations. He whispers if we’d just pray the right prayer, fast more, believe more, it would all be over. Maybe that nearness we felt with the Lord wasn’t real. Maybe we somehow fell out of favor with the Lord, and now this. The thing about this is there is always an element of truth to us falling short, if our eyes are on us. At no time in our Christian life will we ever be perfect, and we are never more intensely aware of our own shortcomings then in the middle of these battles. However, our righteousness is found in Christ. While conviction and repentance are natural parts of sanctification, focusing on our own works is a huge trap that will ultimately lead to despair. Despair is exactly the intent of the enemy for our lives when we are under attack. It can be a short trip for those already in anguish from his cruel assault.
So, if we are walking through the valley of the shadow, we need to see the unseen. Our Good Shepherd is with us. Nothing can come between us. The wedding feast is right around the corner. We need to see Christ between us and our enemy. If it’s touching us, it touched Him first. It touched Him deeper. He is not distant from our suffering. He is a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. He is Immanuel, God with us.
The enemy is cruel, but defeated. We must remember who the real enemy is. This can get blurred. The enemy wants to accuse the Father to us and us to the Father. The Father is satisfied with Jesus’ finished work on the cross, if we have accepted His sacrifice, so that’s a losing bet on the part of the enemy. The cross is also our safest place to focus. In looking to the cross, we are reminded how He suffered and suffers still with us. We see his torn flesh, his face beaten beyond recognition. We see the cost of His love. It puts our own suffering in perspective. It doesn’t diminish it, but it helps to know that He understands, that He redeems. Sunday’s coming for us, too. Also, we know our debt is paid. No more striving with our own faults and the enemy’s accusations. In the resurrection and ascension, we know victory and our position in Christ.
In these difficult times, we wrestle with the already/not yet aspect of our faith. “It is finished,” and yet, for some, grief has just begun. We don’t know how to see this rightly. Maybe we can’t, except to keep our eyes on His. Steady gaze; steady heart. His eyes will lead us into Truth. His eyes will lead us through the valley and into victory. His eyes will, ultimately, lead us to that wedding feast and the home He is preparing for us.