I knew from the look on the nurse’s face that something was wrong. As soon as she removed the bandages, she abruptly said, “I’ll get the doctor.” With that, she whirled around and hurried from the room. Her words were not unusual. The tone in which she spoke them and the look in her eyes were the real indicators that something was badly wrong.
For his part, the doctor seemed evasive. “These things take time. This can be normal. Nothing is ever entirely predictable.”
The truth was, the surgery was not a complete success, and for my part, the results were not what I expected. It appeared to me that no amount of time was going to remedy the problem. The result was disfiguring and painful, and worst of all, my vision was affected. My eyes watered continually, and when my vision wasn’t badly blurred, I had double vision. I was left unable to read, study, or do virtually anything that required the use of my eyes. And this went on week after week.
I was unable to do the reading and studying necessary to prepare sermons. I was out of the pulpit for several months. I was unable to drive, unable to take photographs or develop film in my darkroom, unable to watch videos or news programs, unable to focus visually for very long on visitors who came to see me.
I was physically miserable and, most of the time, bored for a lack of things to do.
My situation was very difficult, and it left me open to spiritual attack. My eyesight was in jeopardy, and my body was in pain. The more intense attacks of the enemy were to come in the middle of the night, at unexpected quiet moments, and many times, as I prayed.
The enemy whispered into my spirit, “You’ll never see again. You’ll never be able to read the Bible again for longer than just a few words or a couple of verses. You’ll never be able to preach freely again.”
If I didn’t move quickly to squelch those lies, the enemy continued his taunts, “You’re finished. It’s over. You’ll never do again what you love to do and have devoted your life to. The ministry has had its day.”
Those whispers of the enemy were just as much a spiritual attack as the attack I was experiencing in my eyes. The battleground was in the spirit realm. The assaults of the enemy were on my mind and heart. And the real challenge I faced was not the challenge of recovering my eyesight and physical health. The real challenge was overcoming the attack of the enemy against my soul.
The same is true for every person.
The obvious external assault of the enemy on our lives—dealing us a blow in our bodies, in our finances, or in our relationships—is not the ultimate spiritual attack we face. The ultimate assault is aimed at the soul—mind, emotions, and will.
It is with the will that we choose whether to accept Jesus as our Savior. It is with the will that we choose to follow Jesus as Lord.
It is in our emotions that we are motivated to do our utmost for the Lord on this earth or to give up and give in to life’s troubles.
It is in our minds that we develop the attitudes and beliefs that give rise to all we say and do.
The devil desires first and foremost your spirit. But if he cannot have your spirit, he will go after your soul. And very often he will inflict pain and hardship on your physical body or your external finances, possessions, and relationships in order to strike at your soul.
You must know with certainty these things about your enemy:
- Satan is real.
- He never gives up his pursuit of us.
- Satanic forces have a plan of attack.
Charles F. Stanley, When the Enemy Strikes: The Keys to Winning Your Spiritual Battles (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004), 1–2.
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