Read Time: 5 Minutes 4 Seconds
The devil wants your vision, your strength. But the Lord wants your limp.
In 1 Samuel 11, we read how Nahash the Ammonite came against the people of Jabesh Gilead, blockading them and backing them up against a corner, so to speak. With their backs against the wall, they were willing to make a covenant compromise or treaty with him.
“And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, ‘On this condition I will make a covenant with you, that I may put out all your right eyes, and bring reproach on all Israel.’” (1 Sam. 11:2, NKJV)
Fortunately for the people of Jabesh Gilead, Saul rallied Israel and Judah to come to the aid of their brothers and sisters, and they routed the Ammonites.
But why did Nahash want to gouge out their eyes?
My friend, Ray Comfort, shared years ago, that young men in biblical times would learn how to fight with a shield in their left hand, a weapon in their right hand, and their right eye watching the enemy. Nahash—whose name means “cunning one” or “serpent”—was saying, “OK, I will make a treaty with you. But give me your vision. Let me take away what you instinctively rely on when you need to respond in your strength.”
If they had given up all their right eyes, they would have given up their capacity to fight, to see the works of the enemy and to discern. Their enemy would have robbed them of their strength.
In contrast, when the Lord wrestled with Jacob, it changed Jacob’s destiny. Jacob came in his own strength and wisdom. After wrestling with God, he left with a limp but he also left with a new identity. He was no longer Jacob, but became known as Israel. And we are all beneficiaries of God’s covenant promises because of the moment Jacob wrestled with God and prevailed.
Like Nahash the Ammonite, the enemy or the devil is cunning and deceptive in how he communicates his ways. We have to be people of discernment and those who love the truth if we’re going to win God’s way. There are no shortcuts in life or faith. From our internal wrestling’s or battles, and as we press in to the Lord, we can come out different—with a new identity. The narrative and the storyline are changed.
Wrestling With God
When I think about the contrast here—wrestling with God or wrestling in the flesh—I would rather wrestle with God. In that wrestling, He works through all those external and internal challenges that I’m going through. With God, I win! Even if I leave with the limp, I’m also strengthened with greater vision, fresh anointing, prophetic clarity, wisdom, and direction for the things I may face.
“We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).
What are the principalities we face today? There are so many! We cannot fight these principalities in the current conventional ways, and we must not be seduced into believing we must fight according to the opponent’s rules of engagement. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war, according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity, to the obedience of Christ.”
At times, we all wrestle with internal struggles, and these are often compounded by external circumstances. We sometimes feel like the enemy has us backed into a corner, and there we are tempted to compromise our biblical convictions.
During these times, it’s important for us to respond—as Jacob did when he was fearing a potential battle in his reunion with Esau—by pulling away and wrestling through our fears and struggles with God. When we wrestle first with God and prevail, we are then given authority by God—as He changes our identity—to prevail over the principalities that are coming against us, trying to distract us and disillusion us from our destination with God and His purposes.
We, like Jacob, need to quit running from our past. We must come to the Ford of Jabbok (a place of stopping, reflecting and total surrender) so the Lord can deal not only with our external conflicts and fears, but also with the internal wrestling’s and conflicts of heart and mind. We must be confronted by Him with our past before we can move into our future.
Here are some practical principles that will help us overcome these spiritual battles in seen and unseen places:
- Praise him throughout. Whatever the circumstance, whatever external challenges or even internal conflicts or blessings I’m going through, I have to, in faith, praise the Lord in the midst of it. We see this in Scripture when the disciples are in prison. As they are praising the Lord, the prison doors open. Over and over again in Scripture, we see those who, in the midst of the most difficult of times, place their sacrifice on the altar. We, today, are living sacrifices. As we place ourselves on the altar of God with our time, talent, resources and treasures, the Holy Spirit consumes our offering and His glory fills our temple. When worship goes up, His presence comes down and manifests in ways that bring breakthroughs we can’t create on our own.
- Pray in the Spirit. Sometimes I don’t even know what to pray, so I pray in my prayer language. I pray not according to my knowledge or according to my words, but I pray as the Spirit leads. I pray before the Lord in the Spirit and allow Him to do a work in me.
- Pray the Word. The Word of God never comes back void. The Word is powerful and sharper than a two-edged sword. As we meditate on the Word, it renews our minds and washes us.
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).
“For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
“Every word of God is pure. He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him” (Prov. 30:5).
Pray the Word! The Word works!
For the rest of this article, visit dougstringer.com.
Note: All scripture is from the NKJV.
Doug Stringer is founder and president of Somebody Cares America and Somebody Cares International, a global network bringing hope and healing to communities through prayer initiatives, compassion outreaches and cooperative efforts. He is author of numerous books, and host of the podcast A Word In Season with Doug Stringer and Friends.