The Beauty in the Battleground
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…
That verse is very well known, and I’m sure most of us have it highlighted in our Bibles or maybe even tattooed on ourselves. I’ve always known that verse, but I didn’t always believe it. I didn’t always view battling as a beautiful thing, and I definitely didn’t rejoice in my trials. In 2017, I became surrounded by the most darkness I’ve ever felt. I had trauma in my life that was re-surfacing and crippling anxiety began to rule my life. I started having panic attacks that would make it impossible to breathe, move, or speak. I wish I could sit here and say that during the attacks I would gain control and overcome, but that was not the case. The only way an anxiety attack would settle for me was when my body finally became too exhausted and I would fall asleep in a pool of tears. To make matters worse, my nights consisted of either night terrors or insomnia. The night terrors were all too vivid, and I began to fear going to bed so much that I would drink coffee at 9pm and force myself to stay awake until the morning. I’m not proud of who I was during that season, and I definitely am not comfortable admitting that I was at that low point. However, one thing I learned through that season is that there’s freedom in being vulnerable, which is why I’m sharing this.
I don’t know what you’ve been through or what storm you may be in now, but I want to encourage you to be vulnerable with yourself in these next few minutes. Because it doesn’t matter how big your pain is, our God is so much bigger. The God of the universe is looking at you in your storm and His heart breaks for yours. His arms are wide open and all we have to do is walk into them.
“Should I suffer long,
Well this is not my home,
I know Heaven waits for me.
And though the night is dark,
Heaven owns my heart.
I’ve got all I need to sing.”
These lyrics are from the song called “As It Is” by Hillsong United. When I was in the middle of my storm, I was looking at it as something to be intimidated by, and I saw it as a battleground where I was standing alone against an army of thousands. As I wept listening to those lyrics, God revealed to me that there was a spiritual battle ground that I had not yet taken up. I felt convicted, because it wasn’t unfamiliar ground at all. The battle ground God was wanting me to claim was Heaven - with an army of Gods angels standing on all sides, the weapon of truth in my hand, and His shield of grace. The army of Heaven and the battleground of eternity was mine for the taking; all I had to do was fix my eyes on it. A spark of Heaven was ignited in my heart, and it felt as if Heaven fully came down to meet me where I was. The Bible says that this life is but a vapor, it’s here one day and gone the next, but the kingdom of God is forever and ever. He sits enthroned over our trials, far before they happen, and infinitely after they pass. That wonder of Heaven, both beautiful yet powerful, lives and breathes within each of us. The song doesn’t just mention the beauty that awaits us in Heaven, it actually says that Heaven is taking up residence in our hearts right now. While we wait for Heaven, we’re not really waiting at all because Heaven is already breathing and living within us.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary light afflictions producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
As I said earlier, I never did view suffering as something to rejoice about. It wasn’t until I went home with those lyrics in my heart and decided to meet my battle face to face, rather than from a place of victim, that I met it from a place of victorious worship. I took up my battleground of Heaven, and instead of shrinking back into anxiety, insomnia and night terrors, I stayed on my bedroom floor on my knees until I was met with God’s peace. I refused to get off my knees until the enemy fled from my room. I knew the enemy was plotting his battle plan, but I refused to allow the enemy to take up ground in my heart. I did that every single night for months, some nights I even ended up sleeping on the floor, but I noticed that the physical posture of being on my knees in desperation was shifting my spiritual posture into victory. Rejoicing in trials is not about magically praying our problems away; in actuality, what makes trials something to rejoice is that when we suffer for Christ, we are in a prime position for God to do something in our lives. Our brokenness makes room for his restoration. His strength can be made perfect in our weakness. When we suffer, it forces us to admit just how desperately we need more of Him and in being desperate for Him, it makes room in our hearts to be transformed more like His. We share in sufferings with Christ and His word says He draws closer to the broken hearted - so if suffering is what most makes us resemble Him, then far be it for me to not meet suffering with gratitude.
1 Peter 4:1
Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same attitude because the one who suffers in the flesh is finished with sin.
Don’t get me wrong, suffering wouldn’t be suffering without the pain. Trials still hurt, and they’re still hard to get through. The hope you can hold onto though, is that no matter what you’re dealing with, my friend, when you battle from the battleground of Heaven, it will forever and always be marked as victorious. The army of Heaven and the battleground of eternity is yours for the taking. There’s a power of Heaven that lives inside of all us when we accept Christ and that beauty, power, and authority is accessible to us now in the present here on earth. The suffering on earth may be long, but we have a home that surpasses all suffering. God wants our eyes fixed on eternity, because the truth is – this earth was never meant to be our home. On the other side of eternity, all of our trials and sufferings will be dealt with once and for all.
When you suffer, let God mold your heart to resemble His as He draws closer to you. The beautiful thing about our desperate need for God is that He can never fully be reached. He is both knowable yet incomprehensible. And what makes the battle beautiful is the ground we stand on when we fight it, the ground of Heaven and the power of eternity. We don’t have to just view the ashes of battle; we get to see the beauty that resurrects from them.