satan, covid-19, and keeping the faith
Peter tells his readers, “Be watchful.” Be alert. Be prayerful. Stay awake. Perhaps he’s thinking back to what Jesus told him the night he was betrayed. Be watchful! Why? Because the reality is that you have an enemy. All followers of Jesus do. And Peter says he’s like a lion on the hunt just looking for someone to eat alive.
Maybe that’s you. You feel like you’re under attack. Especially now. It’s no secret that many temptations and struggles have been amplified in our lives because of COVID-19. They were there before, but they seem more powerful now. Internet pornography viewing has increased dramatically since shelter-in-place mandates came down. Those who struggle with loneliness are feeling even more isolated. Some will turn to alcohol or substances to cope with the uncertainty, grief, stress, and even boredom. Families are together, which is great, but it also means we’re getting tired of each other. You’ve likely said something to your spouse, your kids, or your parents you didn’t mean and probably wouldn’t have said if it weren’t for spending every waking moment with them.
The church is certainly under attack (this isn’t new). Though every human being has a natural need for social interaction and physical contact, those of us who are in Christ know even better our need for community. And yet we can’t gather. Ministry takes money and churches are losing it. Not just because people can't show up, but because people have less to give. The sober reality is that some under resourced churches won’t survive Coronavirus. The enemy truly is a powerful adversary.
But here’s the deal. The devil is very intentional with who he targets. He tends to go after people he deems as a threat. Throughout history he has thrown everything he has at the people who he knows have the potential to make the biggest impact for the Kingdom. So maybe, if you’re feeling extra targeted right now, it’s because Satan sees your potential. Maybe he’s scared!
It’s interesting that Peter doesn’t tell us to run, which seems like the most logical response to a roaring lion who wants to eat you. Peter says stand “firm in your faith.” But given the devil’s strength and our weakness, how is that possible? The odds seem very much against us (probably even worse than the odds of you up against an actual lion). So how am I supposed to stand my ground in faith?
Notice the command in verse six. We are to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. While my instinct is to try to stand firm on my own strength, Peter seems to think the way we “stand firm” is by getting on our knees. Why? Because we actually have no hope against the enemy on our own. If our faith is in anything other than Jesus Christ, we’ll find ourselves shred to pieces in the jaws of a lion. But if we humble ourselves, casting our anxieties, utterly dependent on Jesus, we’ll not only survive, but we’ll be exalted! We’ll share in Christ’s victory!
Because it’s also a reality that the devil has been through this before. On a Friday night a little over two thousand years ago, he thought he had devoured the most effective man to ever live for God’s kingdom. He thought he had won. But, as we celebrated last Sunday, the devil didn’t win that battle! And as strong has he is, he’s nothing but a house cat when compared to the risen Lion of Judah!