But despite all that, it is impossible to ignore an unforgettable fact about myself that is true whether I am walking through a dark parking lot on a moonless night or playing basketball with friends. I am a soldier. And no matter what else is going on around me, a war rages on all sides of me. You, my reader friend, are a soldier. You too are engaged in the massive, world-wide war that is crashing around us.
It's easy to forget sometimes, amid our teen activities or maybe even our teen struggles. Maybe it's not the easy, good times that distract you from the fight; maybe it's the hard times of loneliness and fear that get you down. Maybe you remember for a little moment of time, and then the busyness of life chokes out the little spark of awareness.
But realize it or not, you are engaged in a war, a war that has raged since the beginning of time. And the first step to actually making a difference in it is to realize its existence. That may sound like a very small step, but it's not! If we look at the culture around us and the churches we are in, it's not hard to see very rapidly that most of us have no idea of the war going on around us.
So, let's get that straight! The war exists. 2 Cor. 10:3-4 says, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses." The war isn't physical or tangible, but it is just as real.
And recognize it or not, we engage in the battles of the war everyday, most of the time when we don't realize it. Oh, we recognize the battles about lust maybe. It's not terribly hard to know when your eyes wander too long over toward that pretty girl or handsome guy. We probably recognize the battle with anger. Losing our temper is pretty obvious.
But everyday, a hundred skirmishes go unnoticed in our lives. And realize it or not, that is the Christian life. The Christian life is a hundred battles and a thousand skirmishes in an immense, spiritual war. So being a Christian involves being a soldier.
With that realized, 2 Tim. 2:3 gives us some very good instructions about those battlefields. "Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus." The KJV renders that "endure hardness". So, guys and girls, the battle will come, and the hard times will come. You will fight, and honestly, you will lose sometimes. There are no perfect Christians or invincible soldiers.
So, when the hard times come, and the battle rages, where can we go? What can we do? Well, I think 2 Cor. 12:9-10 has some awfully apt words for the occasion. "And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."
You know when you are strongest in Christ? When you're weakest in yourself. Christ's power is most perfected in you when you realize your own weakness and personal inability to win the war yourself. Only through God's grace can you hope to have victory.
In fact, because of the grace of God, our weaknesses actually become opportunities for Christ to show Himself mighty through us! We, as weak vessels, show Christ most eloquently through our own inability.
That's a freeing concept. You don't win the battles of life by being invincible; you win them by realizing your weakness and allowing Christ to take over and fill you with His grace. When we see battles of life as attacks I'm personally responsible to repel, there's no greater burden than that! But if the battles of life are there only so God can reveal His grace, then the battles, while they still remain struggles, are no longer simply us wrestling to prove ourselves strong.
Now my weaknesses are opportunities for Christ to shine through my life. They are times I can see the sovereign hand of God working for me, and they are times when my faith is strengthened by God's supporting hand.
The battles will come. Depression, loneliness, rejection, temptations. You'll experience them all. But Christ offers more grace. In the face of our sin, He doesn't stand off and watch us battle by ourselves; He offers more grace. And more grace. And more grace. That is the beauty of the walk with God. The battle is there. The war is real. But so is our God, and so is His sufficient grace and sovereign hand.