“Hold your ground, hold your ground! Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of woes and scattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you STAND, Men of the West!”
- Aragorn, The Return of the King
“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” – Hebrews 10:39
There is something daunting about a fight. Something within us shudders when things go wrong in our lives. Our very souls testify to the fact that we were not created to be at war, yet fight a war we must. Ever since the fall in Eden, man has had to fight. We fight to survive. We fight to maintain honor. We fight to keep the enemy at bay.
We must “Hold our ground.”
Perhaps the most frustrating fights we will face though, is the war with our own selves. There is no enemy capable of breaking us down as quickly and powerfully as our own mind. Our minds are a battlefield, our thoughts the mines – ready to detonate at the slightest jostling. Perhaps this is why Paul refers to “taking every thought captive to obey Christ” in 2 Corinthians 10:5. We can never trust our own thoughts blindly.
War is ugly.
I think that in the Christian life we often forget this. There is a battle going on WITHIN us as the enemy seeks to CONTROL us. Ephesians 6:12 points out that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Yes, there is evil in the world. Yes, we will have conflict with others. But the most dangerous enemy is the one that we allow into our homes.
I have come to the realization that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to fighting depression. Yet, at the same time, I have hope. I have the Holy Spirit. This is how I can have the confidence that 1 John 4:4 conveys –“Little children, you are from GOD and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
The truth is that while the enemy is close, our ally is a little bit closer! This is why Paul told the church at Ephesus to “Be STRONG in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”
There is an element of standing firm, of fighting, that we seldom address in modern Christianity’s search for unity and “love”. If we are to expect chains to be broken, strongholds to be purged from our lives, then there has to be a moment where we take hold of the truth of Scripture and fight back! Scripture is clear – if we resist the devil then he will flee! If we continue in our faith, God will be faithful! Whatever the fight, HE has overcome and gives us the ability to be victorious by the blood of Christ.
HOLD YOUR GROUND.
I want to be the kind of person that Hebrews 10:39 describes. “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” So often the temptation will be to shrink back when the going gets tough. I myself find that when the enemy brings up my insecurities, the initial response is to want to retreat into my shell. When conflict appears on the horizon, the core of my being that hates pain pushes me away. Yet there has never been a battle won because someone decided to retreat. If anything, battles are lost this way. Hebrews confirms the spiritual parallel – those who shrink back will be destroyed.
God increase my faith! This is the only prayer I can think to pray. No I do not like conflict, no I do not like pain; yet if I rise up in the power of God, I will be victorious.
Mid 20th century Jewish philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel describes this as taking a leap of action rather than a leap of thought. “He is asked to surpass his needs, to do more than he understands in order to understand more than he does.” Heschel believed that through the ecstasy of deeds (or holding our ground) we learn to be certain of what he called “the here-ness of God.” Simply put, our faith is only going to grow when we put weight on it.
At times there must be a fight before we can experience victory. At times there must be pain before we can experience love. 2 Peter 4:12 reminds us to “not be surprised at the fiery trial, when it comes upon you to test you.” It is to be EXPECTED in this life.
BUT, God in his foreknowledge and wisdom has allowed it – because He knows that it will work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Yes my mind is a battlefield, but thank God that He gives me the ability to overcome. Thank God that He fights my battles by the power of the Holy Spirit.