Strong in Battle

Susie LarsonBy Susie Larson8 Minutes

Excerpt taken from Strong in Battle: Why the Humble Will Prevail by Susie Larson


Chapter 2
“Why Am I Facing Attack? | Stay in Rank”

I’ve heard countless folks say that we need to stop asking Why me? and instead ask Why not me? That question is a great equalizer, wouldn’t you say? Do you ever stop to wonder why God has been so very good to you? Why did He save you? Why is He willing to tend to some of the deepest desires of your heart? (Especially while national crises erupt all over the world.) He’s not too busy to show up at your daughter’s soccer game or meet you in your prayer time or shift the circumstances at work on your behalf. “Amazing love! How can it be”?1

But while considering your battles, I’d love to return to that first question and dare to ask Why me? Not with an entitled, whiny heart, but with a bold, brave, courageous spirit.

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for battle, so it’s wise to discern why and how we find ourselves facing opposition. Hugely important caveat here: This is not to say that we’re always the ones who get ourselves into trouble. It’s not to say that every battle is a result of our negligence or sin. And it’s not a question that we should wield when someone else is in the trial of their lives. They don’t need anything from us that sounds remotely like, “You know what your problem is?” Or “Maybe this happened because . . .” That’s what Job’s friends did. No. Discerning the reason for our battle is to determine our battle strategy.

Now when opposition comes, I go right to prayer. Lord, why have You allowed this battle in my life? Have I given the enemy access in some way? Do I have a blind spot that he’s leveraging against me? Or is the enemy blowing smoke because You’re about to do something new, and he wants me to miss it? What do You want me to learn from this? What’s my divine strategy for navigating this battle victoriously? Please show me what faith and obedience look like here.

Get Back in Rank

Our enemy has been around a long time and has had countless opportunities to study our weaknesses, take notes on our selfish tendencies, and observe our unfulfilled desires. He knows how to orchestrate situations that trigger our fears, ignite our jealousies, and compel us to grab quick solutions. If we’re out of step with the Spirit, we’re easy prey for the enemy.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

–James 4:7 NIV

The word translated as submit here is a Greek military term that means to come under the leader, to get back in rank. Watchman Nee once said that we’ll never have authority until we learn to come under authority. Often, we open the door to enemy attack because we’ve stepped out from under God’s rule and reign in our lives. Too often, we make light of nuanced attitudes and judgments against others. We think nothing of picking apart our pastor’s sermon or gossiping about their kids, not realizing that we’ve set out the bait for the enemy to launch his attack.

Notice in the scriptural examples of storms and battles how profoundly people’s decisions affect others. When we surrender our responsibility or embrace ungodly attitudes without any fear of God, we make ourselves (and others) vulnerable to enemy attacks. When we try to manufacture solutions on our own, we not only miss the wonder of God’s provision, but others also pay a price for our disobedience.

That’s why the Psalm 139 prayer is essential for every believer today. Search me, O God, and know my heart! Test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything and everything in me that offends You, and lead me in your everlasting way!2

We need to give time and space for this prayer, time to listen and to respond to what the Lord speaks to our hearts. He may bring up an old grudge that you’d forgotten about but that has embedded in your soul and has kept you from moving forward into the things He has for you. He may nudge you to admit that you’ve made an idol out of your children, or that you’re wasting too much time on social media, or that you’ve allowed jealousy to filter your thoughts and steal your joy. Whatever He shows you, respond, repent, and receive His unfathomable mercy and grace, which He so lovingly pours out at a moment’s notice.

Once you’re back under authority, now you have authority—Christ’s authority. Here’s where you rise up and resist the devil and his evil schemes against you, your family, and the culture at large. To resist is to oppose, to say no, to stand in faith in the authority entrusted to you and tell that enemy to stand down. The rest of the verse reads, “and he will flee from you.”

Would you believe the word flee means that you’ll have him running, seeking a place of safety? Think about it: The devil finds safe places in Christian spaces whenever we usurp authority and step out of rank. But when we humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand, fear Him with reverence and honor, and serve Him on His terms in His way, well, then the enemy comes trembling from his stronghold, flees as fast as he can, and finds a place to dwell where he won’t be disrupted. Wow. That’s why Scripture says this:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

–Proverbs 9:10 NKJV


  1. Charles Wesley, “And Can It Be That I Should Gain,” hymn, 1738.
  2. My paraphrase of Psalm 139:23–24.

Excerpt from Strong in Battle by Susie Larson provided by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Copyright 2022. Used by permission.

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