I must admit right off the bat, I'd never been one to buy into "spiritual warfare." Though I've long believed evil was as real as the hand in front of my face and that Satan has his own grubby hands at work in this world, when people would claim they were "under attack" from dark forces, I worked hard not to roll my eyes.
Under attack seemed a bit much. Especially for the bits of dumb bad luck they'd go on to regale. But then I wrote a book called Grumble Hallelujah and went around speaking about our need to lament—to grieve but then grumble our, well, hallelujahs when life gets rough. And each time I'd share a story of finding God's goodness or faithfulness in the midst of misery, wham! A fresh batch of misery would hit. Each time, it hit a little harder, pushed me down a little further. Each time came a wicked whisper: Gonna praise him now?
Then I was foolish enough to claim increase as my word for 2012—and go public with my longing for God to "increase my faith" (and bank account, if he wanted!). Where life had begun to feel on the "upswing," circumstances took rough right turns. Where I had longed for greater faith, suddenly situations pressed me to doubt God's very existence. Questions like Does he even hear you? Is he even there? looped through my brain as I prayed.
Worry then became enough of a theme in my life that I gave it up for Lent. And then all hell broke loose. At least, that's how it felt in my life—as if all of hell's demons had broken loose to attack me, to give me more reasons to worry, to give me less reason to trust, to test my willingness to praise God no matter what.
As much as I tried to roll my eyes at myself, as much as I tried to say it was only my imagination or perception, I realized, I was under attack. I had been naïve enough to think I could continue to write and speak as honestly and transparently as I've tried to do without any spiritual pushback. But as it is with leaders of any stripe, I suppose once we step forward into God's calling for our lives, we have to watch our steps—and our backs.
It was while I was in this defensive posture, carefully stepping forward, that I found Mary DeMuth's recently released Beautiful Battle: A Woman's Guide to Spiritual Warfare (Harvest House, 2012). I liked it immediately, for many reasons.
DeMuth brings us right into the book with her trademark confessional style. She doesn't skirt around the issues in her life that led her straight into spiritual battles. Then DeMuth sets up a background on evil and Satan himself. It's an important anchor to a book that could otherwise get too "out there."