By Tamra Dalbey
The writer of that 80’s hit must have experienced some serious wounds on love’s battlefield! More often than not, the women I️’m talking with are going through some form of relational hardship. Not all of us are in this camp at the present. But it’s remarkable the theme I see as I️ listen to my friends.
I’d like to learn how to best engage in battle on behalf of these struggling relationships.
First, let’s clarify what type of relationship we’re talking about. This is written for the ones the Lord has shown us we need to fight for, but are growing weary in our attempts. There are times the Spirit leads us to cut out toxic relationships. So, be Spirit–led in applying this to your situation.
It’s a mind job when you’re in daily war against someone God has called you to love. The closer the relationship, the more wearying it can be.
The struggle we face is that there are two people involved in any given relationship—we control only our response, our half.
There can be months and years of no ground gained or even ground lost. Add to that the deep scars we bear from disappointment and bitterness taking root. What person wouldn’t feel like surrendering?
Right as we’re thinking there’s no hope for healing, and are ready to be done, that’s when we need to be reminded of who God is and what He’s capable of.
I want to gather some insight from two different epic battles of the Old Testament. Maybe they can help us visualize the kind of warriors we need to be.
The first battle is found in Joshua 5…
Impossibility stood before them. Jericho had impenetrable walls all around. God gave Joshua the “marching orders”—specific instructions for the Israelites to follow that would bring the walls down. They had an activated part in the process. Crazy as the orders seemed, they obeyed in faith, and God faithfully did what He said He would. (Heb. 11:30)
Here we see how in battle sometimes God will give us something to do. Even though it was God who brought the walls down, it is our place to align ourselves with Him so we can receive our marching orders. Listen, He’s ready to give instruction. He’s sent us His Spirit who guides and directs our every step, if only given the chance.
There are also those times the Spirit asks us to wait. Waiting on the Lord can be so discouraging for us “fast food” Americans. The next story shows us how to wait. It is an activated waiting, not at all like passively or mindlessly standing around until something happens.
The second battle is found in 2 Chronicles 20…
Jehoshaphat and all of Judah were surrounded and completely outnumbered by enemy armies. A prophecy was given that God would give them the victory. They began to praise God; praising in faith that He would come through for them. Thanking Him (and this is key) in advance for the victory. What total belief! They owned their victory before they even had it. What happened next was nothing less than an act of God. The enemy armies completely wiped each other out… right as Judah started singing.
Here we see how in battle sometimes God has us observe Him do the work. They weren’t without anything to do though. They sang out their faith, and I’m betting they weren’t shy with their faith songs. Declarations, shouts, anticipation for deliverance. Noise! We need to declare His promises to ourselves often enough and hard enough until we believe them. His promises are true… praise shakes off our doubts. Our outcries of faith do damage in the spiritual realm.
We will have no other time to bring the Father such sweet and powerful praise than now, through our trials. In Heaven, when He’s in our sight, our pain will be over. How meaningful it is when we thank and praise Him in the middle of our crisis… now, while He’s still unseen. This is faith that moves.
It would be a great disservice not to mention another key piece of Judah’s war plan: prayer. They immediately and urgently sought God for help. (2 Chron 20:12)
He wants us to petition Him with our needs. To knock fervently… sometimes this means we bang on the door! Persistence. Like the widow in Luke 18 who kept coming back. Contend for restoration; don’t stop asking. Bring to mind history’s infamous “askers”: Abraham (when interceding for the lost in Sodom); Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel after wrestling with God for blessing).
It is critical in warfare to accurately identify who your enemy is. For me, I️ need to remember that my enemy is not this person, but the crafter of all lies and deceptions. He is so smooth with the lies too. He wants us to feel like change will never come. He wants us thinking the past will dictate our future.
The voice we need to choke out is the one that whispers, and sometimes screams defeat.
There are times the battlefield is too bloody and messy for our sight to handle. Too despairing, too much. The only way past and through it is to see with eyes of spirit and faith. Christ can move. He’s our only hope for cleaning up the mess. Isn’t He good at washing us? Isn’t He good at bringing newness of life? He is able and faithful to reconcile, even where there has been severance:
“What was torn You mend again
You redesign the tattered thread by thread
You take the broken and destroyed
You rebuild, You make whole
Joy, begin to rise
Hope, begin to light the dark
Our God exchanges old for new
Dawn has conquered night
Death has lost to life
And now we are exchanging old for new
There’s nothing that Your love won’t do
There’s not a mountain faith can’t move
There’s power in the blood
The power of the cross”
-“Old for New” Bethel Music
This world will chew us up and spit us out; but we serve One who has overcome this world. He gathers up our broken fragments and does an even greater work than before. He can do this in even the most hopeless of relationships.
Take courage! Take it when you sing that song of faith. Take it when you choose to believe that He answers persistence. Cling to our Steadfast Hope, now, even before we see our victory.
Battle is hard. It requires endurance, and it is painful. Thank God we don’t have to fight in our own strength. Our Jesus steps in for us. He goes before us and fights on our behalf. Any battle He’s in ends with victory.
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary…” (Isaiah 40:28)