The loud crash of thunder shook my bed and rattled the windows of the house! It was 4:45 a.m. and I was wide awake, my heart beating fast and full of fear. I was waiting for something else – only I didn’t know what. I only had 30 minutes left to sleep anyway, so I lay there half sleeping, half awake – and then fully awake once my mind became engaged.
That early morning experience is parallel to how I live at times. I’m doing fine, living life and then something happens, whether it’s big or small, that jars me awake out of my normal routine or emotions and sends me into turmoil. I remember in college after my friend died, every time I would hear her favorite song on the radio I would burst into tears. After my husband left me it seemed like I was continually running into people we both knew who, not knowing, would ask me how he was doing, or all of a sudden there were a lot of sermons about marriage at church. I felt attacked, my emotions already raw, I was very susceptible to being wounded again.
Times when I’ve felt particularly vulnerable, I have reached for the sanctuary in Ephesians 6:10-18.
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
One of the aspects of this verse that I cling to the most during those times of pain are two small words at the end of verse 13 – “to stand”. There have been times when all I could do was just stand. There was no gain, no moving forward, I was simply holding my ground; I was standing. Looking back, I see that when I’ve been in particularly difficult circumstances and I remained standing and didn’t buckle or fall, I grew. Standing firm can be growth when it takes strength and determination.
I wrote this poem a year ago when I was feeling particularly attacked. It fits well with this idea of attack, fear and the decision to stand.
I feel loss
From every angle
And with each
Beat of my heart
It seems that each time I progress
And a small healing occurs
Something else rips the bandage
From my soul
Reopening the wound
I stand here
Contemplating my future
Considering the strength it will take
To continue to move forward
And so I decide to
I look back now and see how that daily decision to put on God’s armor and remain standing has given me peace and a measure of joy that I didn’t believe was possible, even with storms that come in the middle of the night.