“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, NIV).
Last Sunday, my wife and I had the privilege to be part of a church service honoring our military and its veterans. At the meet-and-greet following the service, I noticed a man standing on the periphery of the crowd. He looked sad and clearly reluctant to engage in conversation. I moved in to see if I might provide a listening ear.
He seemed glad that I had approached him. Within five minutes he was sharing his story. It focused on his military experience as an 88 Mike (truck driver) in Afghanistan. He described the incident that changed his life—when his truck hit a huge explosive ordinance device (EOD). He sustained serious injuries; fortunately, he didn’t lose any limbs. Injuries to his right leg kept him confined to a wheelchair for six months.
But physical injury was not his biggest problem. He began to hate Muslims, believing the person who planted that EOD was probably a Muslim. When the first American doctor to examine his wounds happened to be Muslim, he insisted on seeing another doc.
That incident happened eight years ago. As I talked to him, I could see that hatred was still eating him alive. He talked about his mistakes since getting out of the Army, the worst being to alienate his wife and kids. He was now alone, filled with hatred and bitterness.
Having witnessed some of the horrors of war during my time in Vietnam, I can certainly understand much of what that man expressed. PTSD? Without a doubt. Would he benefit from mental health care? Almost assuredly. But the hatred that is consuming his life is the work of a spiritual enemy and requires a spiritual solution—the love and power of Jesus Christ.
Time didn’t permit a more in-depth conversation. I gave the man my card and encouraged him to call my cell if he decided to reach out for support. I hope he does.
He is unquestionably a casualty of physical war, but he is also among the millions who have been wounded in spiritual combat. Sadly, he mistakenly believes his enemies are Muslims. He doesn’t realize that Satan is his real foe. In all warfare, physical or spiritual, victory can only occur when you can identify your real enemy.
In the days to come, I’ll share some more thoughts on spiritual warfare and how to defeat the devil using the powerful spiritual weapons God makes available to every believer.
Spiritual warfare is a reality, but our adversary, Satan, often lurks in the darkness and operates undetected, even by Christians.