It is no secret that there is a conflict between God and Satan, and we are part of that drama. We must not reduce our physical pains and suffering to a battle of our spirituality; we as believers must not ignore those reasons for all this pain and suffering. When we face these ordeals, we are on trial, like Job and God, as our judge, and Satan as our defense attorney’s prosecution and Jesus Christ. Satan’s only objective is to oppose and undermine our confidence in God’s merciful will towards us, while God’s is to strengthen it.

Physical battles involve spiritual ones, and it works in the opposite as well. We must recognize that it is only the Gospel and the sight of Jesus in his saving grace that can give us faith and genuine obedience. Command and threats are part of Scripture, and we need to acknowledge them, and when we do so, we will more deeply feel our need for Jesus Christ, but commands and threats, even when nicely issued as helpful suggestions, cannot fill our sails with faith, hope, and love. Apart from the Gospel, the law is the most terrible burden and can lead us to either despair or the delusion of self-righteousness.

Saint Augustine of Hippo

Here is a beautiful life story of Saint Augustine. Few have written on the subject of guilt and grace than from the Bishop of Hippo. Augustine’s conversion was not much due to the guilt of his sins as to their power. Resting in his garden, the immoral young pagan man heard a child singing, “Take up and read, take up and read.” Finding a New Testament, he turned randomly to Romans 13:13-14: “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature”, member of a heretical sect known for its immorality, the young and lustful Augustine was under the tyranny of sin. The Gospel promised to free him from bondage to himself. Clothed with Christ, Augustine found a way out.

These point to the interconnectedness of body and soul, and therefore of physical and spiritual battle. Job’s holocaust drove him to doubt God’s goodness and concern for him: at times, he even seemed to come close to surrendering the conviction that in the end, justice would prevail. Life crises, whether they start as physical or spiritual, end up involving the whole person.


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