Avoiding Spiritual Battle Fatigue
Avoiding Spiritual Battle Fatigue
Seven signs you are experiencing spiritual battle fatigue so that you can be on your guard against it.
During WWII, in the lead up to the D-Day invasion, the German high command was convinced that the Allies would employ General George Patton to lead the assault. After all, he bested the desert fox Rommel in North Africa and then led the allies up the Island of Sicily and southern Italy. From the German point of View, he was the best person for the Job and they were concerned about Him taking command. But a number of things worked against Patton. First of all, he got himself in trouble diplomatically on a number of occasions offending the British and Russian allies. But a major factor came when he was touring hospitals in Sicily and on two occasions verbally abused and slapped two US soldiers that were suffering from Battle fatigue. He called them cowards and demanded that they be removed from the presents of honorable men wounded in battle. He was later forced to apologize to those men, the doctors and others in the Hospital and then to his entire army. Patton blamed his being passed over for the D-Day invasion because of this.
- In WW I this condition was called shell shock – it was thought to be caused by the nerves actually being damaged by the concussion of the bombs.
- WW II 10% of the men in combat (over 500,000) developed battle fatigue. More men were lost because of this than were killed in combat. This was the largest single loss of manpower during the war.
- Many soldiers experience battle fatigue from the constant physical, emotional and psychological pressures of combat. Today it is known as PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- Often times Battle Fatigue or PTSD is associated with those that suffered violent trauma and this can resurface in one’s life during times of stress or even out of the blue when some association is made.
But even if you don’t experience trauma directly but are near it can have similar affects. In a July 17, 2010 article in the Wall Street Journal entitled : “The Battle over Battle Fatigue” States:
The very notion that one can sustain an enduring mental disorder based on anxious anticipation of a traumatic event that never materializes is a radical departure from the clinical—and common-sense—understanding that disabling stress disorders are caused by traumatic events that actually do happen to people. This is not the first time that controversy has swirled around the diagnosis of PTSD.
In brief, the symptoms of PTSD fall into three categories:
- re-experiencing (flashbacks and or relentless nightmares;)
- hyper-arousal (e.g., enhanced startle, anxiety, sleeplessness)
- phobias (e.g., fear of driving after having been in a crash).
Symptoms must last at least one month and impair the normal functioning to some degree.
Not everyone who confronts horrific circumstances develops PTSD. Among the survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing, 34% developed PTSD, according to a study by psychiatric epidemiologist Carol North. After a car accident or natural disaster, fewer than 10% of victims are affected, while among rape victims, well over half are affected. The reassuring news is that, as with grief and other emotional reactions to painful events, most sufferers get better with time.
So what does this have to do with us today? First of all we need to have understanding and compassion for everyone that suffers from traumatic events in their lives either in our out of the church. But secondly we need to recognize that we too are soldier but not in the physical sense. Ephesians tells us we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against the rulers of darkness, against the spiritual foes of the Almighty God and everything He is doing through His Son to bring peace to this world.
We are in a constant battle with the forces of evil who want to destroy us, discourage us, and defeat us and this can cause a type of spiritual fatigue. And while this type of Battle fatigue is not PTSD it can have the same effect on our lives because it destroys the spirit within us and robs us of any hope of eternal life. The title of the Sermon today is:
Avoiding Spiritual Battle Fatigue
Many Churches, including the United Church of God have been looking at lessons we can apply toward Spiritual Fatigue that we learn from Battle Fatigue. As more and more people become weary of religious organizations, we need to recognize the patterns of Spiritual fatigue and be on guard for them in our own life as well. Trust in organizations of every kind is at an all-time low. People no longer believe in government, religion, or even their fellow man. I work with people that say they want nothing to do with organized religion because they have been burned before from churches that, from their point of view, want control of either their lives or their money or both. Those of us in the Church of God are no strangers to these sentiments either. We have watched our numbers dwindle. We no longer fill arena’s like we once did. What does that do for our trust in our own faith?
I have lost so many friends and family to a world that does not offer any hope or answers but people no longer believe the promises we read in our bibles. Today I am going to give you 7 signs you are experiencing Spiritual Battle Fatigue so that you can be on your guard against it.
Jeremiah was no stranger to hard times in keeping his faith
Unlike Jonah who brought bad news that never came and got depressed. It was being the barer of bad news that depressed Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 20:14 14 Cursed be the day in which I was born! Let the day not be blessed in which my mother bore me!
And down in verse 18 Why did I come forth from the womb to see labor and sorrow, That my days should be consumed with shame?
Unlike the time of Jeremiah though, many in the church over the last 50 years did not have a prophet that prepared us for what would happen to the Church of God in the latter days. Each of us had hope that the end was much nearer than it was and that as members of the faithful we would ride God’s protection through to the return of Jesus Christ only a few short years away.
But even though we saw cracks in that plan over the decades of the 70s and 80s as we saw a number of our members split off we never imagined what we would see today.
Even when we are doing what God wants of us it can be difficult to remain positive and not be overwhelmed with the loss of so many of the faithful. We are losing members to the fracturing and we are losing members to death. Remember Elijah thought that everyone had turned their backs on God and wanted to quit. Turn to Romans 11 and lets read the summary of this event by the Apostle Paul.
Romans 11:1-5 NKJ I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, 3 "LORD, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life"? 4 But what does the divine response say to him? "I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." 5 Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
Paul was talking about how Israel, once God’s mighty people were decimated and were a mere fraction of their former glory. Not only in time of Elijah but in the time of Paul he saw the dark days of the future would do to the church what they once did to Israel and he did not want them to lose heart and become discouraged. God did not abandon them and he won’t abandon us.
The church today is fragmented, a fraction of what it once was and like Elijah said, we alone are left. So many have had their faith killed or because of spiritual battle fatigue have given up.
Can it happen to us? It can if we let it
Paul also told Timothy to hold on in rough times to come as he himself was in chains for his faith. Paul also likens our battle as one of a soldier in:
2 Timothy 2:3-13 3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
Moving down to verse 10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. 12 If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
So what are the signs of Spiritual battle fatigue?
The first sign that you are suffering Spiritual Battle Fatigue is:
- Feelings of being Overwhelmed and helpless
During the Gulf war, we learned about a phrase for a military strategy to overwhelm and demoralize their opponent. It was called Shock and Awe. It was a program where you hit a prepared opponent with everything you have all at once and don’t let up to let your enemy regroup or even think about his next move. Do you ever feel like life is closing in on you? That Satan is throwing so many spiritual grenades in your lap that you just can’t take any more? That everywhere you turn you find dead-ends. When Lisa’s mom got sick so soon after losing her Father I felt that way.
I spoke to someone in Medford that felt the same way as we had lost a number in the church to sickness and we just wanted a win. You fall to your knees and beg God for a win because you have so much negative around you. This is when Satan tries to kill your soul with a thousand darts.
The Walkers tell the story about when they got Mom Cole’s diagnosis that they had both of their cars smashed in and one of the family members cars hit all on the same day. It was a lot to take all at once.
NLT Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy.
We pray and try to expect good things but sometimes there is just a lot of bad news and it can be overwhelming. When you experience these times which come to us all we need to realize that we might be feeling spiritual battle fatigue. When this happens we need to reassess our spiritual footing and put on our spiritual armor of God from Ephesians 6.
You say to yourself Satan doesn’t get to win. Our God is so much bigger than this.
If we don’t we will suffer from our second sign of fatigue.
- Feeling woes is me.
Financial problems, mechanical breakdowns, and feeling of envy of what others have or jealousy for what you don’t have can cause us to feel sorry for ourselves. It’s that victim mentality that we have heard so much about. How does God use us as an instrument for good when we wallow in our own self-pity. But how can you be positive when there so many things wrong in your life?
Experts will tell you that to avoid the victim mentality you have to take personal responsibility for your life and everything in it. But How can you do that when the forces of darkness are behind it all?
The Truth is we can give those troubles to Jesus Christ as He asked us to in
Matthew 11:28-30 28 Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light."
To do this we do have to take responsibility for our attitude. We have to decide that our lives are not in our control and hoist the white flag of surrender to God and let Him help us fight the evil one. We Surrender to God and Not evil. We keep positive through the storm. We praise God and wait for His promised peace. One way or the other it will come and we will have peace. But we need to have a positive mental attitude. God can do all things through a person with a positive mental outlook.
- Feeling exhausted and fatigued
As everyone knows who have gone through a long trial or series of trials, is exhausting in every conceivable way. The three daughter’s kept a constant vigil over their mother for the last month and it took a toll on them all. Like extended combat, they got little rest and that was not really rest but a few hours to be unconscious until the next volley came in. The last days were the most exhausting as they were up every two hours to give meds and tend to the needs of their mom. It was all done out of love but it took a toll on them all.
2 Thessalonians 3:13 13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.
When I would talk to Lisa during that time she said it was tough, really exhausting, but it was also a labor of love and that God kept giving them the strength to keep going. They were most strengthened by the positive attitude that Mom Cole had to the very last.
She talked about how she felt the presence of Both our Father and elder brother holding her hand through it all. Giving her what she needed to get through this. So we can feel exhausted but still not succumb to spiritual battle fatigue.
One of the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the US to get terrorist to crack is sleep deprivation. You force them to stay awake when everything in the body wants to just stop and rest.
One of the things you see with Spiritual Battle fatigue is the next on our list. When you are overwhelmed, exhausted and feeling sorry for yourself you will usually find number 4.
- Weak or non-existent prayer life.
When we stop going to God for solutions then we truly are alone to fight this battle. No soldier wants to be cut off from friendly forces. No re-supply, no re-enforcements.
When the German army swept across the soviet union in WWII they seemed unstoppable. At the siege of Stalingrad, the German sixth army was cut off and encircled. The German commander held out for months but poor weather and few resources prevented not only reinforcements but eventually all re-supply. Hitler ordered everyone to fight to the last man and bullet for the honor of Germany. But with no hope of help, the German whole sixth army surrendered.
God does not have a problem with re-enforcements. He is not held up by weather. He can do anything at any time and we have to always remember that re-supply is only a prayer away. When Peter tried to draw his sword to defend Jesus he was told to stand down.
Then Jesus said in:
Matthew 26:53-54 53 "Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? 54 "How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?"
Sometimes God wants us to go through tough times to strengthen us and what we really need is the strength to endure. When we decide that total relief of a trail is the only answer we turn our back on the help we need to endure to the end.
Never cut the lifeline of prayer from the front lines of our fight with evil.
Another sign that we have spiritual battle fatigue is number 5 on our list.
- Resurgence of old bad habits
Sins once believed to be dead and buried come back to life when our lives are falling apart all around us. We can fall back to old habits and behavior. We have to be on our guard for this and when it happens we have to realize that we are in bad place. It's time to turn around at that moment and make a strategic withdrawal. Sometimes we are on the wrong road going in the wrong direction and we don’t realize it but when we notice our old life coming back we need to turn around and march right back to God, His church, His people.
Satan wants us to quit. He wants us to surrender to him. I believe it is why when some people leave the church they go not just out of the church but back to the customs of the world. Christmas and working on God’s sacred days. It is a way to surrender to Satan and then somehow no longer be a target. But remember the warning from Jesus Christ on this. Turn over to Matthew 16:
Matthew 16:26-27 26 "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 "For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.
- Loss of spiritual desire.
Here is Satan starts gaining ground not just against us but our loved ones as well. He wants us to lose our spiritual desire.
When we are no longer on the offensive we are not protecting the terrain around us and we put at risk those on our right and left. Our flanks. This is how the red army was able to encircle the German sixth army in Stalingrad. While the strong sixth army took the city the Soviets attacked the weaker flanks on the left and right rear guard of the main forces and cut them off from the others.
When we lose our spiritual desire and stop doing good we put our loved ones at risk of attack from the evil one.
Galatians 6:9-10 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
- Pulling away from God’s People
Here is Satan’s Ultimate Goal; to peel away the weak and depressed ones. Once we are in this state you see positive people as irritants.
Once we are away from the Flock we are helpless to fight and we might find ourselves completely give up our faith like so many have done before.
When you notice that you are pulling away from God’s people you have to recognize that Satan has you right where he wants you. You need your fellow soldiers to strengthen your resolve.
Hebrews 10:23-25 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
We have to ask ourselves if we are going to let Satan win? We have to realize how important it is to Satan that we fail.
Have you thought about how many are hanging on because we are? If we quit so might others so we are potentially hurting more than ourselves.
Romans 8:31-33 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.
So let’s not fear the evil one. Let’s fear only God and seek His righteousness. Let keep the faith and keep the good fight and not let spiritual battle fatigue take us off the front lines.