This has been the worst week of their life. My friends experienced the loss of her husband and their dad. A sudden loss. A tragic loss. A traumatic loss. A tremendous loss.
As often happens when tragedy strikes, many people want to offer help and support. The refrigerator is full. The flowers are in vases. The donation account is growing. And yet we still feel powerless. Our hearts yearn to alleviate their suffering and to take away their pain, but the brokenness of this world will not allow for that.
As another friend and I were praying during the night, she sent me a reminder via text: Pray for spiritual protection over them. The devil will attack when they are down.
A couple days later, as I was begging for a shield of protection around this family, I felt God say, You are the shield of protection.
You are the shield of protection.
My mind immediately went to a study by Priscilla Shirer about the armor of God, where she describes the shield of faith. Faith is more than believing. Faith is acting like God is telling the truth. A shield is more than a trash can lid. A shield is large and solid. It is similar to a small door. It is heavy. It is capable of protecting most of the body. Our enemy exhibits no limit to the destruction he is willing to launch at us - even when we have been beat up by the world. He will hurl arrows and boulders of fear, insecurity, intimidation, doubt, weakness, and anxiety right into the middle of a tragic moment. We are face down, injured, broken, and barely able to breathe. Yet the devil continues to attack. These are the times we need someone else's shield. We are too weak to protect ourselves. We need time to heal and to recover.
This is where my friends are. They are shoved to the ground and deeply wounded. The breath has been knocked out of them. They are disoriented and confused. It is impossible to fight from that position.
They need a shield of faith to protect them, but they are unable to carry it themselves. My shield can do that for them. My faith can believe when my friends cannot believe. My faith can claim the truths of God when my friends cannot even remember what those are. My faith can allow God to do what he already intends to do when my friends cannot even comprehend who God is right now.
When a circle of people huddle together and each lifts their shield overhead, linking them together side by side, a shell of defense is formed. A barrier. A wall. Our shields give protection for a time. And my friends - or your friends - can recover beneath this layer of faith that surrounds them.
Life is not meant to be lived alone. Battles are not meant to be fought alone. Faith is not meant to be carried alone. I need your shield. You need my shield. We will be hard-pressed at times, but we will not be crushed. We will be perplexed, but not driven to despair. We may be persecuted, but we will never be abandoned by God. We will each be knocked down in this life, but we will not be destroyed. And we can rise to fight again.
So, today, I engage my faith when my friends struggle to lift their own. I fight for the goodness of God in their lives despite not understanding the reason for tragedy. I reach for an eternal purpose that outweighs their present sufferings. I yearn for redemption.
I raise my shield.