It’s appeared to me as I have grieved the loss of my son that satan hasn’t lightened up his assault on me, in fact he’s quadrupled it. It’s during times like this in your life when what you believe, is what gets you through each day. However, as I learned, again, this past weekend at the Faces of Christ retreat, what I say I believe doesn’t always get fleshed out in my behavior. And, what I say are my core beliefs that I live by, are not always the actual beliefs that drive my behavior. Let me explain.
I would say with my mouth that we Christians are at war, meaning Christ and His sheep versus Satan and his fallen angels. This war wages all around and in us. But now I can see during the most painful parts of the grieving process, cognitively and behaviorally I altered ever so slightly my definition of sin and the war we are fighting. The enemy was no longer Satan and his demons but those sociological and psychological corruptions of the world. I came to think that my Shaun was dealt and unfair hand. He was an Asian living in a Caucasian world. Further complicating life for him was the knowledge he was abandoned by his biological mother the day he was born. He was also a very quiet, sensitive, more introverted young boy living with very outgoing, extroverted and popular siblings. All these things are true but, ultimately, were not the things that lead Shaun to drugs and ultimately cost him his life. Satan got Shaun to believe some lies about himself that resulted in him making some bad decisions that ultimately cost him his earthly life.
I would say with my mouth that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood,…..but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”. But Satan bombarded me with lies about the cause of Shaun’s death. Satan got me thinking it was sociological and psychological issues that caused Shaun to make bad decisions. When in fact, Satan took Shaun’s life, not sociological and psychological problems.
I have many sociologist, psychologist and counselor friends so before you think that I am saying something negative about the importance of your profession, let me assure you that I think your profession is one of the key tools available to counter the lies of satan. These social and psychological issues that Shaun experienced are symptoms and not the actual problem. The problem is sin and the adversary is Satan, pure and simple. And when Satan can get us to see the problem and the adversary as anything other than sin and him, he wins.
While grieving my focus changed often from Satan and his lies to poor Shaun and his sociological and psychological issues. Unfortunately, when my focus changed, I became part of Shaun’s problem because I didn’t do enough to fix his social and psychological issues. And it wasn’t only me that didn’t do enough, it became very easy to blame others for not doing enough and even God for not correcting it. We humans are quick to blame God for all the bad stuff that happens in the world. But is that fair? Our original parents Adam and Eve wanted independence from God and so took that life-altering first bite from the apple. They wanted their independence and God let them have it. Unfortunately, there are consequences that go hand and hand with our independent choices and some of those consequences are not good. Even here we are quick to blame God for all the evil in the world, when the serpant/Satan is totally to blame.
Taking this line of thinking one step further, after Jesus was baptized by John and the Holy Spirit descended upon him and his Father said this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased, He was driven into the desert too fast and be tempted by the devil. Please recall how the devil started his first temptation with Jesus, “IF you are the son of God!……”. That is constantly how Satan attacks man to this very day and how he assaulted me. If you are God’s child, why would God take Shaun from you? If God really loved you, how hard would it have been for Him to change things in Shaun’s life,? You can’t be a child of God or Shaun would have done things differently! A daily diet of unchallenged IF questions can lead to doubt, indifference and despair. Satan attacks us when and where we are the weakest. My guard was down and I was vulnerable. Like a lion hunting, Satan tries to separate us from the pack and when separated he devours us. Satan tried to devour me by getting me to doubt that God truly loved me. I’m naturally introverted and prefer my alone time. While grieving, I wanted to be alone with my thoughts even more. I was easy pickings for the evil one. Fortunately, I had good friends and family that would not allow me to remain alone and self-absorbed. My wife insisted we go to church every Sunday. Dear friends were constantly stopping by with meals, donuts, checking up on us or just stopping by to talk and listen. My wife Roberta,Tiana (Shaun’s fiancée who moved in with us after Shaun died) and myself tried to make it a point to sit and talk together daily. Friends and family were calling, texting, sending cards, checking up on us. Most importantly, they were there for us and their love profoundly impacted and changed us. I learned through my grieving the value of friends and God’s perfect timing because the right friend always showed up at just the right time. Also, providentially, Roberta and I were never both down at the same time. One of us was “up” enough to prop up the other. I’ve also learned that when I least wanted to be around people was when I most needed to be around people & God would dispatch someone to check on me. And, when I least wanted to pray and read God’s word was when I most needed to pray and read God’s word and God always brought something to mind or some reason that caused me to pray and read His word.
One of satan’s primary weapons is lies and he is very good at weaving a lie in with a little truth. We have to remain vigilant during challenging times in our lives so we don’t choke on the apple like Adam and Eve did. Caring friends help us to avoid that mine field.
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