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Warriors I thought this article did a good job of explaining some of the impacts of the battles we all face.

Caring For The Spiritually Wounded

By Gordon MacDonald

It's common to hear some Christ-followers observe, "I'm facing a serious spiritual battle," or "You can anticipate spiritual combat if you take on that challenge." Words like these are usually spoken with gravity or great concern. But what do the words mean? Do we fully understand the implications of spiritual warfare if it's as real as the Bible claims?

Spiritual warfare is a much more dangerous, multi-dimensional reality than most believers have bargained for. I'm not referring to bizarre things reported to happen on "mission fields," nor ancient personalities such as the demon-possessed men Jesus encountered. Rather I'm describing here and now situations, people and places, things close to home where behavior and attitudes get out of control and where people like us can be destroyed in terms of effectiveness, reputation, and influence.

Scary language, this. It suggests the inevitability of casualties, as all warfare scenarios do. It infers that soldiers—good soldiers at that—just might take "bullets" and fall down in defeat, in disgrace. Even die! Because in all wars, often the best and the brightest fall.

I'm not sure that a lot of us who believe in spiritual warfare think about that possibility. And to the extent that we don't, we leave out what a military person might call contingency planning. So what do we need to remember when we think about the reality of spiritual warfare?

1. The best soldiers might sustain wounds . . . even fatal wounds. Perhaps the soldier was inadequately armored for just a moment or he or she simply waded too deep into the thick of battle. Perhaps a loss of heart or a state of exhaustion from overwork cost him alertness. Warfare implies potential ambush by an overpowering force; it offers the possibility of a great personal defeat or momentary setback. If all of this is so, we may have to revamp our attitudes toward those who fall in spiritual battles. Should they be discarded—as seems so easy to do—or should they to be treated as a noble army treats its wounded?

2. Sometimes wounds and fatalities are sustained because fellow-soldiers weren't doing their part in whatever the battle required. Battles are fought by troops, not lone soldiers. When a soldier falls, it can often be the mutual responsibility of other soldiers—even the commanding officer. While the Bible calls a sinner to repent of individual sin, very few of us succumb to sin in isolation. Thus, it might be worth pondering whether or not we all carry some sense of joint responsibility for each other's victories and defeats.

3. We need to evacuate a wounded soldier and restore her to health before she can return to the battle. While the wounded soldier is recuperating, we need to listen hard to what she has to say so we can learn how the wound was sustained and how to avoid that particular kind of casualty in the future.

4. A soldier who has taken a bullet might be better equipped to understand the meaning and seriousness of warfare and what it takes to fight. There are millions of men and women in our country who were once wounded in spiritual warfare and left lying on the field. I'm not saying the Church shoots its wounded. But I know a few wounded soldiers who were abandoned by people who spoke of spiritual warfare but treated it as a game with toy guns.

5. We have to re-examine what it means to be a sinner. Maybe—just maybe—the next time we hear of a soldier falling in battle, we ought not to assume he deliberately invited the bullet. Perhaps what happened to him was a premeditated attack on the part of the "enemy," meant to neutralize not only him, but a host of other people. In other words, there may be times when someone has failed, and the failure represents something different than just a rebellious choice.

I make these comments because I had plenty of time to think about them when I lay on a battlefield from wounds I thought would never heal. But for me there were some "medics," some healers who were uniformed in grace. They found me and determined I should recover to fight the battle another day. Today, years later, I receive many phone calls from wounded soldiers who have experienced spiritual warfare from the dark side. For them spiritual warfare is no longer a cliché; it's a reality. And they need grace-driven stretcher-bearers, healers, and cheerleaders who believe not only in spiritual warfare but restoration and are committed to getting them back up to fight again.

Christ-followers must go all the way: If we speak of spiritual warfare with seriousness, warning one another of an enemy who ambushes and takes good people captive, we must also have a strategy to rescue those taken hostage or left wounded on the battlefield.

The end of the story is that Christ-followers who have been wounded and patched up fight with a limp or a handicap for the rest of their lives. But they also fight a lot smarter, wiser, more alert, and more thankful.

—Discipleship Journal

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