Part of Our Spiritual Training

I read a curious little parentheses in Judges 3 before church this morning. We read about how the Lord left a few opposing nations near the Israelites to train this new generation and test their hearts. The verse says this divine tactic was “for all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience).”

The Lord did this to teach warfare. I immediately thought of David’s words in Psalm 144: Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. How does God train us? What are these divine tactics in our heart today?

I affirm the hard things I experienced in my life had everything to do with learning a special kind of spiritual warfare and a way to battle in prayer. God used difficult things to train me to trust and rely upon Him, to listen to Him, and to know His power. I think of how the Israelites might have approached God and said, “Can you just remove these people? They bother us! Take all the hard things away!”

But God leaves the hard things.

It’s a wonderful way to reframe what’s happening to you. It’s not mean. It’s preparation for victory ahead. The hard and confusing things train us. They make us battle ready. They equip us to know the enemy and recognize the schemes of the devil. (I don’t make this stuff up about a scheming devil. It’s in the Bible. Paul tell us to put on the full armor of God to take our stand against the devil’s schemes in Ephesians 6. In 2 Corinthian 2:11, we’re to remain confident that Satan won’t outwit us because we have become aware of his schemes.)

Scripture teaches us how Satan operates and names the things coming against us. You know what this is like and how you’ve grown: You’re trained in hope because you’ve encountered the spirit of despair. You’re trained in truth because you know the spirit of error. You’re trained in contentment because you’ve taken a stand against jealousy. You’ve been trained to pray through illness, financial hardship, loneliness, or depression. You’ve been trained to pray through anxiety. You’ve been trained through broken relationships or disappointments. It’s all training to know how to pray, grow in faith, and experience the overcoming power of Christ. It’s training to listen to the Holy Spirit like never before in your life.

I consider how the hard thing is left there by God to train us for war. I consider that, while God doesn’t inaugurate evil, He uses it for good (Romans 8). And one way He makes it good? He teaches us through suffering, and we grow strong in Him.

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