This Present Darkness
"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."
Unfortunately, the collective sentiment shared by all too many at this present moment is that the world seems like a pretty gloomy place. Gas prices are higher than they have been in years. In March, inflation recently hit a 41-year high at 8.5% in the US. Russia still persists in its invasion of Ukraine, killing thousands and causing billions in property damage. Closer to where I live, we are all in shock and mourning the loss of 19 elementary students and 2 teachers in the Uvalde, Texas school shooting last week. Words aren't enough to describe the heartbreak. My deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of those who lost their loved ones and the community during this difficult time.
Our social media newsfeeds are a constant reminder that there are many things wrong in the world right now. It's easy to get caught in the trap of hopelessness, fear, and desperation. Addiction and overdose rates are on the rise. The annual suicide rate in the US went increased by 30% between 2020 and 2022. People are suffering, and they don't know how to cope with this ever-darkening world. More than ever, we need to talk about dealing with the mental health crisis in this country. Our secrets keep us sick, and our enemy satan wants us to keep quiet about our problems, so we stay sick.
I've been very open and honest about my depression and suicidal ideation struggles throughout my book and this blog. I know all too well what it feels like to be in a dark cloud that you feel like you can never get out of. To feel like there is nothing you can do to change your situation. That is one of the biggest lies the enemy likes to feed us. There is always help out there, and there is always hope. When I was in rehab, I tried on numerous attempts to read the Alcoholics Anonymous big book but realized that my brain fog was so bad I lost the ability to read and retain any information. The ability to reconnect with my childhood love of reading has been one of the biggest blessings of sobriety. I hear the voice of God most clearly through Scripture and various books, so it makes sense the enemy would want to tempt me into staying in a chemical-induced coma so I can't focus. Throughout the years, reading has helped improve my concentration and increased my self-awareness and the ability to discuss significant issues. It has been an excellent tool for me to reduce stress and relax. Well sometimes. Psalms 46:10 isn't my strong suit. But it's all about practice and not perfection.
My boyfriend's Mom recently loaned me a copy of her book This Present Darkness by Frank E. Peretti. I usually don't read Christian fiction, but because I admire and love her, I decided I would give it a try because she had fantastic things to say about it. Little did I know what kind of journey the Holy Spirit would lead me on through this book. It's about a little town called Ashton and is a gripping story that brings keen insight into spiritual warfare and the necessity of prayer. With plenty of twists and turns, it's enough to keep the reader engaged, and putting the book down is impossible. It showcases the physical world meeting the spiritual realm and gives us a birds-eye view of the battle between good and evil. I'm left to believe that although the characters and town might be fiction, the battle is all too real. We have no idea what is taking place in the spiritual realm, but we are, in fact, in a battle like Paul tells us in Ephesians 6.
What I took away most from this fantastic book was the reminder of the power of prayer. As Christians, most of us know the power of prayer, yet we often underestimate its unseen power. We tend to forget that we have a limited view of what is happening in us and around us. "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have ever been fully known." 1 Cor 13:12 We minimize the effectiveness of prayer because we can't always see instant results. We live in a society of instant gratification, and patience and faith aren't our natural defaults. But just because we can't see instant results doesn't mean our prayers aren't working.
The Old Testament book of Daniel tells us the story of an angel that comes to the prophet after he had received a vision and was in great conflict. Daniel prayed and fasted for three whole weeks with no intervention or answers. He is finally given a vision where he is told: "Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is yet to come." Daniel 10:12-14. The Michael that the book of Daniel refers to is the angel Michael, and the price of the kingdom of Persia refers to a demonic force that is granted permission to rule over the providence. I realize this might seem far-fetched to some of you, but I would argue that we do in fact live in satan's world until Jesus comes back. In Matthew 4, satan tempts Jesus in the wilderness during his forty days of fasting. We are told that the devil took Him up on a very high mountain and showed Him all kingdoms of the world, offering them to Jesus if He would worship him. It isn't a genuine temptation to offer someone something you can't actually provide, so this leads me to believe satan does have more authority over the kingdoms of this earth than we realize. But I suppose you only have to look around at the suffering and heartache we are submerged in to discover that much. It doesn't take away God's sovereignty over the situation. For reasons unseen to us, God has granted satan some kind of authority in this realm, like we see in the story of Job.
But back to Daniel. We are told God heard and answered his payer immediately by dispatching the angel Michael. Still, a demonic force in our physical realm blocked him from receiving the deliverance he desperately needed at that time for three whole weeks. On earth, we have limited vision because we have dim vision at this time. We have no idea of the battles that are raging all around us. Throughout Scripture, we are given example after example of how God does hear and answer our prayers. Not always when we would like, but He is listening and does answer. So we should never forget the importance of prayer and should always "pray without ceasing" 1 Thes 5:17. You never know how God is answering your prayers and what unseen battles are being fought on your behalf. You could be the one to make all the difference in your family, neighborhood, and the world. And Lord knows we need more prayer in this increasingly dark world.
My prayer for you this week reader, is that you never forget the power of prayer. And most importantly, that you know how much Jesus loves you.