I just got back from a life-changing mission trip. God stretched me and used me in new ways. I met new friends that I will forever hold in my heart, I grew and matured, and I was on cloud nine when it hit me. I was exhausted, depleted, and had an overwhelming urge to run away. Then it dawned on me – I was experiencing a counterattack of the enemy.
Have you ever noticed when you start following hard after God temptation seems to become even more enticing? Maybe you decided to do a 21-day fast in order to grow in your spiritual maturity and somehow every single one of your friends decides to ask you out for lunch. You finally commit to making Sunday morning church a priority and a family fight breaks out on every car ride there. Does it surprise you that after experiencing God in the most real way imaginable all “H-E-double hockey sticks” seems to break out against you? If so, allow me to enlighten you. Spiritual warfare is real and you have a real enemy of your soul who does not want to see you grow in the Lord. One of the devil’s greatest strategies to get you off course is the Counterattack. A Counterattack is a strategic and sneaky attack that comes usually right after a great victory.
Even great people of God can fall victim to the counterattack of the enemy. For instance, consider Elijah who just had a “mountaintop experience” in defeating the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. The fire had descended from heaven, the people of Israel acknowledged the Lord, and the false prophets were all put to death. But that experience was followed by an episode of fear and failure in Elijah’s life. The prophet was afraid and ran for his life from Queen Jezebel. The reason is made clear in 1 Kings 19:1–2: “Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ‘So may the gods do to me and more also if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.’”
Elijah wasn’t prepared for the counterattack of the enemy and it almost took him out! However, his experience is written in the scriptures to offer us some practical solutions that can help us overcome the enemy when we need it the most. So let’s learn from Elijah and come up with a battle plan so that we are not caught off guard when the enemy tries to hit us with his counterattack.
Four tactics to withstand the counterattack of the enemy:
Go to God with your problems.
The death threat Elijah received caused him to flee a day’s journey into the wilderness (1 Kings 19). Elijah was so discouraged from his issues, that at one point he desired to die. He said, ‘It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers’” (1Kings 19:4). He decided to run from his problems instead of run to God with his problems! Hello! How many of us can relate?
As Christians, we know we are to take our problems to the Lord, but sometimes we think it would be easier to just run away from our problems. We tend to bury ourselves with work, Netflix, and even family responsibilities just to escape our problems when all the while God is waiting patiently for us to come to him. Therefore, the next time the devil lies to you about your problems and tempts you to run away, take it as a reminder to run to God. Turn on your worship music, pull out your Bible and get in God’s presence. God will meet you in your place of need; He specializes in showing up in the middle of our messes.
Make rest and self-care a priority.
In response to Elijah running in fear, God took mercy on him. The Lord sent an angel to bring the prophet food and drink both before and after he slept. After the rest and nourishment, Elijah took a forty-day journey to Mount Horeb to meet with the Lord and be in His presence (1 Kings 19:6–8). Part of resting in the presence of the Lord is properly taking care of our bodies. We are human and we need proper sleep, nourishment, and exercise to be healthy.
Friends, do not underestimate the power of a nap and a snack! Seriously, it is not selfish to take care of ourselves! Man I am preaching to myself right now! God has called us to Rest in Peace and not just when we are dead. I used to think I’ll rest when I get to heaven. There is too much to do now. Then I found myself getting burned out. God has given us rest now and part of resting is quieting ourselves in prayer. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.
Realize you are not alone in the battle.
On the mountain, the Lord asked Elijah why he fled to such a remote location and Elijah answered, “The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too” (verse 10). Elijah saw himself as the lone defender of God’s name in Israel. Jezebel seemed to be winning the fight, and in fear, Elijah fled for his life. During this time when the prophet felt so alone, God offered an important word of encouragement to Elijah. He said, “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees that have not bowed to Baal, and whose mouths have not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18).
Just like Elijah, we tend to think we are the only ones who have ever gone through what we are going through. We forget we are part of a much bigger picture and we are not alone. God wants us to be in community, but the devil wants us to be in isolation. Who do you think has our best interest in mind? Next time you feel like the lone ranger, pick up your phone and call a godly and trusted friend. Ask them to pray for you. You do not have to fight by yourself!
Learn to hear the voice of God.
“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (1 Kings 19:11-13, NIV, bold mine).
If you want to overcome the counterattacks of the enemy, you must learn to trust the still small voice of God. Stop looking for Him in only the fire and learn to hear Him in the silence. The reason God oftentimes speaks to us in a whisper is that He is close by. He is not this far off God who doesn’t care about what we are going through. He doesn’t need to shout at us, because He is in close proximity and the appropriate volume to speak to someone when you are next to them is a gentle whisper. If you are struggling to discern His voice, don’t give up. Instead quiet yourself and ask Him to speak. Ask God to give you ears to hear and faith to believe, then wait on Him – He will show up!
God’s word is the truth – if you submit to God and resist the devil he will flee from you (James 4:6). You don’t have to be afraid of the enemy or his counterattacks, because God is greater than the devil. Don’t run away from your problems; instead run to God with your them. Make sure you are taking time to rest in His presence and especially do so after you pour yourself out. Take care of yourself, because in doing so you honor God. If you need help in the fight then reach out to a trusted friend, mentor, or pastor. And most importantly train yourself to hear the voice of God. Pick up your Bible, which is the sword of the Spirit and give it a swing. Remember, you have the Victory and the Battle is the Lord’s!