Igor Spivak’s article, “The Struggle,” is personal. As a missionary in Kharkov, he faces situations that no lay person, much less a lay person living in the United States, is forced to confront. Yet the underlying struggle he has written about is one that every disciple of Jesus faces.
When it comes to spiritual warfare, the fact is, if we’re not fighting, we’re losing—not the war, (Jesus already won it) but the battle in which we’re deployed. And frankly, if it’s difficult to discern any sign of battle, it probably means that the enemy is not wasting ammunition on us because we’re, well, losing just fine on our own. Not good.
Any time we are trying to live for the Lord, trying to reach others with the truth of the gospel, trying to meet a different standard than what the world expects, we’re in for a struggle. We have to pull away or push back from our own inclinations and we struggle continually against spiritual forces that use subtle ways to keep us from gaining much ground for the Kingdom of God.
Even as a missionary I am challenged by Igor’s statements about not being content to write people off when they say they are not interested. We truly don’t want to make pests of ourselves or disrespect people. But I have to ask myself, how much of what I’m feeling is “that would be disrespectful” and how much is “I’ve already been rejected and don’t need to come back for more.”
If I’m honest, I know how to approach people in ways that convey my respect, even after they’ve rejected me. So then, the struggle I face is not that I’m fearful of treating someone disrespectfully. The real struggle is I know that many people need more than one opportunity to get over their initial reaction before they are willing to consider the message. And as a messenger, I don’t enjoy that prospect.
It’s so easy to be just plain deceived about our own motivations and what we really feel. And that, too, is part of the struggle.
I have certain “go to” prayers that I bring to God on an ongoing basis. Among them, “God, help me see what you want me to see. Help me know what you want me to know. Help me say what you want me to say.” The struggle doesn’t end. But struggle is good. It means we haven’t given in.