“Take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (Ephesians 6:16).
Paul uses this vivid image to describe our defense against Satan. When the evil one wishes to harm us, we can protect ourselves with our faith.
Sounds great, but faith doesn’t seem to shield us from much. We still endure grief, loss, physical pain, financial reversals, embarrassing failure, family conflict, and sickness. Even Paul, with his great faith, suffered these things.
I’ve decided these painful events are not really Satan’s weapons. But he will use them to create doubt and disillusionment, which are his flaming arrows.
The doubts come when God disappoints us. When he doesn’t protect us from painful things after we’ve been loyal to him, we feel like he has not lived up to his end of the bargain. And it’s tempting to abandon our faith and go our own way.
Faith is the commitment to God’s standards even when they don’t seem to be “paying off.” It is belief in God’s integrity when we can’t see it, much less prove it. Faith is a firm grip on the promise of resurrection. This commitment is the choice we make. And this choice fends off our doubts and helps us persevere.
Faith does not spare us from pain. It is what helps us endure it.