How does the enemy, the father of lies, the devil assault followers of Jesus? However he can. I am not one to see demons behind every problem. I think the biggest struggle for Christians is their own temptation to sin. Our weakness in the face of temptation makes Satan’s job easy. I believe that most of the time, we fall in sin without demonic involvement. But, I am not against recognizing spiritual attacks, and I definitely pray against evil and against the evil one.
This weekend, my wife flies to Ethiopia. Candy is going on a mission trip to visit kids in the Hope Chest program in Kombolcha. Our sponsors (people who financially support these kids) go on trips every spring to visit the care point. On those spring trips, we do a Bible camp, pass out care packages, and heap affection and love on the kids. This fall trip is different. Candy (not a medical person) is taking nurses and doctors to give all the children physical exams. Her team will visit our care point and another, one in the capital city, Addis Ababa.
This is important, good work. Those children are beautiful, talented, strong, and internally resilient. They just lack the opportunities that enable kids from more financially stable families to succeed. We hope our sponsorship program will empower these young people not only to better their lives, but also to bless their families and their nation.
We know that by investing in them, we are blessed. Every time I go, the team, the kids, and the Ethiopian adults, all Christ followers, help me grow closer to Jesus. That will happen for Candy and her team these next two weeks. In the context of providing (food, school uniforms, and with Candy’s team, medical examinations) Hope Chest shares the gospel with these children and their families. We are part of an evangelistic, discipling work.
Satan hates that. So, to help Candy prepare, Satan, or Satan’s minions have been busy in our family. Candy has bronchitis. Merone has croup cough. Henry lost his first tooth and had to report on it in detail at 3AM. We’ve had a flat tire. All these assaults on health and sleep interrupt Candy’s preparation. Her work is doubled. She is getting herself ready to leave and our household ready for her absence. I am trying to be helpful, but spontaneity is a strength of mine. Prep is a weakness. Candy is gifted in preparation. She works hard at it. So by the time we get up at 3:45AM Saturday morning to get her to airport, she will be exhausted. She will start her work worn out and possibly weakened by illness.
However, God is revealing blessing in beautiful ways. First, there is Candy’s indomitable spirit. She has this little affected laugh she does that perhaps only a husband of more than 10 years can appreciate. It is a forced laugh, but it communicates several things. When she does that laugh, she is acknowledging that what is facing her is very hard. But she won’t back down. And she won’t be discouraged. And she won’t quit. And, most importantly, she’s given to whimsy in the face of tough odds. It is a pleasantly disarming thing.
A second blessing is family. My parents are coming for four of the days she will be gone. And my Aunt Jane is taking the kids for the first couple of days. Instead of us juggling preparation, parenting, 4AM, and the airport stress, Jane will have the kids. Parenting will be off the table. The bags are already packed – three days ahead. We see God working through us to ready us for what is ahead.
I know you could point to all this and deny any supernatural involvement. Bronchitis? Croup? Flat tires? Those things happen. All in a week leading up to a major trip? Sometimes. You could chalk it up to coincidence. I would not argue. But, I know God is providing and blessing and carrying us. Whether God is equipping us to deal with normal inconveniences or God is bolstering us to stand against evil, however subtly evil approaches, God is with us. It seems simple to say it, God is with us. But when it is seen as truly real, then it becomes enormously significant.
Candy knows it. She names the problem in ironic terms. Laughs. Then carries on.