“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:8-10
The reality of the now and not yet of the Kingdom is that we are still under attack. On the cross Jesus defeated the devil, but until the return of Jesus we are in the “end-stages” of war, with the devil determined to take as many down with him as possible. And the thing he hates most are vibrant, thriving ministries that are adding people into the Kingdom. So it is natural that when we are part of going about the Father’s business and advancing the kingdom on earth as in heaven that there will be attacks from the prowling lion Satan. He will try to tempt us to turn away, and if he can’t bring us down that way he will try and throw suffering, hardships and attacks at us to get our ministry shut down or minimised. We must be careful to flee temptations and so not disqualify our ministry opportunities that way. But sometimes through no fault of our own things get pulled out from under us, just like Job lost everything when the devil tested him.
When that day comes it can be hard to make sense of it all. What just happened? Why does this opposition seem to win? Why is what God was using so powerfully now gone? It can be easy to take the approach of Job’s wife and want to curse God and die – to throw in the towel. But we must echo the cry of Job “Blessed be the name of the Lord”. Because God has promised that when the devil seems to have devoured us and destroyed our ministry He is going to do four things – He will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us.
Job got back more than he lost – “The LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” Job 42:12. God promises to restore the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25). While it may seem like the devil has won God, who has called us to eternal glory, promises to RESTORE us, to return to us the position of being used by Him to advance the Kingdom.
And when He restores He will CONFIRM us – God will make it clear to those who rejoiced in our downfall that He has chosen us and continues to use us. The devil never gets the last laugh. God’s favour does not come and go – when our faith is in Jesus we always are loved by God and He always desires to use us. God promises to confirm us and make it obvious to those around us that He alone has orchestrated our comeback.
Then He will STRENGTHEN us. Coal and diamonds are both made of carbon. The difference between the two is that diamond has undergone extreme pressure. We remember that God works through all things for the good of those who love Him and are called by Him (Romans 8:28). While the devil may think he is doing well shutting down what we have been doing for God, God can work through that situation to use it for good, using the experience to strengthen us, to increase our resolve to serve the Kingdom and teaching us wisdom to bounce back stronger than ever before. “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
Finally He will ESTABLISH us. Establish means to set on a firm or permanent basis, and to show something to be true. Jesus tells us that He is building His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. We can take hope that our God is not in the business of breaking His promises. What He has said will come to pass. Through we may go through a season where it makes no sense at the time, looking back we will be able to see how God has used it to strengthen us in preparation for what is ahead when he restores and establishes us to be used even more powerfully than ever before. God shows the world the truth of our faith by our ability, through the Holy Spirit, to endure seasons of persecution and locusts eating away our ministry and to remain faithful in the God who never forgets us but restores, confirms, strengthens and establishes us.