Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Somebody in his or her corner of the world clicked on one of my posts from 2014 on the theme of our value as “support staff” in conflict, whether our role in that is big or small (they also serve who pray and cook and bandage wounds…).
Thank you, reader. I hope you were encouraged.
I add to it today because I think there is a follow-up on a related theme here in the “battles” of 2020 that focuses on one of the elements of every war: loss of trust and the grief that accompanies that.
Before I head into my themes today, noted above, and to the logical end of the expanse of what evil possesses, it seems, the entire world just now and where it might be ultimately headed both prophetically and/or if not stopped, I invite you to be encouraged, emboldened, and perhaps even healed by the testimony below. Additional notes on who this man is and what he endured are at the end of this entire post.*
I wrote “battles,” plural, above, because, as is usually the case with wars, if they are not stopped soon enough, they advance and adapt to the challenges of new terrain (yet leave the same old devastation in their wake).
I think most will agree that there are many fronts to today’s battles that extend to the farthest points north, south, east, and west, invading both external and internal, physical and psychological, macro and micro, theaters of war.
Of course, at its root, war is always but one thing: a confrontation of good versus evil where someone (or many) lust after power and control, the more the better, and thus begins the stealing, killing, and destruction, if not resisted and stopped, that metastasizes where and how it will.
Resistance also requires effort, often kinetic but always strategic.
But here may be the saddest tale from the trenches: in a flawed world with imperfect humans at the helm, even the best of plans laid do often go awry, as the old expression goes, while the worst, succeed.
It seems, however, we just keep bloodying the landscape with this or that conquest, unaware, forgetting–or in denial of–the lessons of the past to have to learn our own in the present.
And even if we are aware of, and prepared for, what wickedness mankind’s heart will conjure at the expense of others, even if the result is success, there will be blood, sweat, and tears, as well as collateral damage, to deal with, to cite two other old expressions forged in conflict…
One kind of collateral damage is grief, and it comes in many forms: the grief of lives lost, lands pillaged, hearts broken, minds troubled, and spirits downtrodden.
It’s to the latter three I write today as they are impacted by perhaps the most personally painful loss in all kinds of war, that of trust. And by so writing I hope to provide at least some balm of encouragement as we grieve this.
On Grief and the Loss of Trust
If you think about it, Jesus was the only one who knew exactly who His adversaries were, thus His grief was not caused by the sudden shock of being “thrown under the cart” by betrayal, if that idiom were to be expressed in His vernacular.
Jesus was neither conned nor surprised over the mocking, the attempts on His life (before He willingly gave it for us), or the attacks, both overt and covert, by the religious leadership of His day.
But down here on this mortal plain, as we learn our lessons on faith, knowledge, discernment, and wisdom, none necessarily easy, we are often surprised, hurt, and shocked by the revelation that “they” who cause our loss of trust are not who we thought, believed–and trusted–they were.
And, to note, “they” might be harmed by our own flaws and mistakes, our own seeming betrayal of their trust.
For it is the nature of evil and of war, after all, to be waged on uneven ground, in the darkness and confusion of nightfall and fallen hearts, and surprise attacks, whether real or interpreted as such, are some of the most effective.
God did warn, us, however, there will be days like this, both in war and in grief:
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars… (Matthew 24:6)
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heaven…
a time to mourn… (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4)
And, indeed, amid all the other elements of the battles of 2020, these are the days when trusted leaders/colleagues/friends/even family members that, by some kind of betrayal, trigger grief over the loss of trust even if, as believers, we understand that what really divides us and them, for a moment in time or longer, is some of that collateral damage present where evil prowls to devour all (read: wherever our real enemy is, which is to say, everywhere on this battleground until his time is up).
But to the encouraging news for today!
There is more to both of God’s warnings, above, however, that does not leave us hanging and heavy-hearted over a blow to trust, that is to say, when we, in our vernacular, feel as if we have been “thrown under the bus,” but that tells of God’s provision and blessings to come.
Here’s the whole of both verses and contexts of God’s future for us:
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. (Matthew 24:6, link added)
1There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
But just now, grieve to heal your heart, still your mind, and calm your spirit.
And know another time is coming.
To put a different way by another with a mind toward Christ:
“The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”
Now to the encouraging news from then.
IN THE DESERT
First posted Sept, 2014
My brother, retired military, commented that the enemy currently terrorizing its way through “deserts east” is benefiting at the moment from abandoned allied trucks and tanks and other battle gear. However, he says, unless its leadership assigns personnel on a ratio of about 12 to 1 to support those at the wheel, so to speak, to requisition, transport, maintain and repair all those high-tech sand-stressed working parts, the desert may soon be littered with useless junk.
With regard to the enemy in question, which advertises extensive travel plans, you might say martyrdom over maintenance does not a very successful—or long-term—campaign strategy make. (Which is, of course, a good thing for the rest of us.) It takes a lot of power behind the scenes to effectively power the front lines, whether it’s the “good guys” or the “bad”…
IN THE SPIRIT
This has me thinking about “support staff” of an entirely different nature needed for an entirely different “campaign,” if you will: this one spiritual; these troops, for the good.
Just as the Body Military needs troops on the front lines and everywhere else (as in “They also serve who sit and type”—and order and ship and cook and repair) the Body of Christ needs members in spiritual support positions. Only every position in this Body, top down, is support!
Here is a list of “(Spiritual) Occupational Specialties” from 1 Corinthians 12:4-31 (NASB), their nature, and purpose:
Concerning Spiritual Gifts
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way… (and on to the most potent gift and calling of all: love).
I feature this passage and message today because I fear that due to the way numerous churches are organized at present, many congregants might mistakenly assume that the lion’s share of power resides in the pulpit, little, in the pew.
The Scripture above, however, details it very differently. And in these days of intensifying battles—literal and spiritual—we need to remember this.
According to God’s plan, each member of the “spiritual troop” is needed to engage in the specific gifts and ministries to which we are uniquely called by our spiritual Commander-in-Chief. And, as noted above, He is concerned that “(we) should have equal concern for each other.” Thus, the need for fellowship—and “lateral support” for all.
Not necessarily, however, the fellowship of man-made, admin-heavy, more business-model driven than Holy Spirit led fellowships, or emotion-driven hype-fests.
Not to say that good organization and openness to Godly emotions are not appropriate.
But discernment is in order.
Indeed, these days it seems increasingly hard to find a body of believers adhering to classic Biblical truths and teachings outside of a small group here, a remnant, there.
But even so, we have these words of comfort, encouragement—and support—from Christ, Himself: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20).
Carry on, troops.
*Video notes about Terry Waite from a previous post: How to Boost Your Immunities, 2020 Edition, Part 3–Perspectives from the Trenches
The final testimony is an interview of Terry Waite, English humanitarian and author, held hostage and tortured for five years during the war in Lebanon.
“My Soul is Not Yours to Take”
According to a Wikipedia summary, “as an envoy for the Church of England, (Waite) travelled to Lebanon to try to secure the release of four hostages, including the journalist John McCarthy. He was himself kidnapped and held captive from 1987 to 1991.”
From this interview, here is his very powerful explanation (starting at about the five-minute mark) of how he withstood and overcame, mentally and spiritually, the abuse of his enemies by a reliance upon (and to the subject of this post) his strong “spiritual immunity”.
To the question, “How did you…keep…hope?” Waite replied:
“I could say to my captors, ‘You have the power to break my body. You’ve tried through torture. You have the power to bend my mind, and you’ve tried. But my soul is not yours to possess. Whatever happens, that lies in the hand of God and will not be taken by anyone else.’”