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Facing darkness

Heavy. The past few days have been so heavy.

Watching the news in a helpless state as troops advance into a country not their own and try to claim by force what they have no right to. Driven by the ego of an envious, greedy man whose values are so askew that he no longer hears reason. And people are suffering and dying. What we are witnessing is the darkness that began long ago - the results of lost battles that have now spilled over and invaded a country. It is the physical manifestation of a darker, even more devastating inner battle - one that we actually all fight.

As my pastor spoke of Ukraine with tears in his eyes I was keenly aware that although we cannot physically be there to help, we are all linked in the human brotherhood and any one of my brother’s or sister’s sufferings is my own.

We are all created by the same God. He loves us all and this bonds us into an eternal fraternity. Once I know this then I no longer have the luxury of thinking that suffering outside of my immediate circle does not concern me.

When one suffers we all suffer. Yet as we feel the anguish of those in Ukraine being bombed and shelled day and night, there is something we can do besides donate and pray - although those are important.

We need to be vigilant to prevent the darkness from spreading.

A few years ago I traveled to NYC with my sister to visit ground zero and the memorial building erected where so many tragically died. It was a very sobering and moving experience. We cried, we mourned, we shook our heads in disbelief, and we marveled at the strength of the human spirit.

Many things affected me at the memorial, but none made such a lasting impression as a few simple words that were scrawled on a large piece of butcher paper: “The only real devils reside in our own hearts, this is where all our battles should be fought!” (Gandhi)

Somewhere along the line, the people who carry out heinous acts of violence have lost the battle in their own hearts against hatred, envy and greed. They are defeated from the inside, and so their battle flows out onto others.

Every evil we encounter is because of inner battles that have been lost - or worse - maybe never even waged.

Neglecting to fight our sin nature and the demons who fuel our sinful thoughts and deeds creates a chain reaction that always ends up causing pain and hurt to others. But God provides victory for those who do stand against the evil that would sweep us up.

“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

God calls us to fight the devil and the evil in our own hearts. Wage war there as if your life depended on it. Don’t allow anger to lay its seeds. Don’t allow hatred to sprout. When you discover envy or jealousy, bring it to God right away. Find the lie with which they are attacking you and fight it with the truth of God. Pray blessings over those you envy. Even if you don’t know them. Pray peace over those you dislike. Pray until your envy and anger is gone - or until the habit of bringing it to God has become so ingrained that the battle only lasts for a second. FIGHT the evil that tries to daily overtake our hearts and souls with fear, anger, hatred and violence.

If we only did this one thing, tending to our own inner battles and learning how to win them with God’s help, we would provide a safe and healthy place for our children and loved ones to live in. We would avoid wars before they even start. We would help spread God’s Kingdom on earth.

Don’t put it off. Lives are at stake. Fight evil first within so that the peace can spread from you and ripple throughout your family, your town and your country. Sow peace by daily securing victory over the lies of Satan. God is bigger than all of the darkness - inner and outer. And ultimately He will be victorious over them all.

“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3: 14-18

-Kelly Joyce

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