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Stronger Than a Mask: Protection from Unseen Enemies - Elizabeth Elliot

Just a few weeks ago, it would’ve been strange to walk into a grocery store and see people wearing latex gloves as they push their carts and face masks as they traverse the aisles. It would’ve been odd to see people studiously avoiding those in an oncoming path or giving an unusually wide berth to other shoppers. We might’ve even shaken our heads and turned up our noses at these people, whom we assumed were obviously hyper-germaphobes.

But now? If you aren’t doing these things now, you are the strange one.

Coronavirus has us suiting up for battle against an invisible enemy. It’s impossible to tell who has it and who doesn’t, or on which everyday surface it lurks — waiting to attack us when we get lazy in our safeguarding. So, we do what we know to do to protect ourselves: We wash our hands, we don’t touch our faces, we wear masks and gloves. We sanitize our groceries, we leave our packages outside for three days, and we take off our shoes so we don’t unknowingly track the virus into our most sacred spaces. We are fighting a forceful opponent we can’t even see; one that, given the opportunity, can kill us.

Friends, what if we worked as hard to protect ourselves from the real unseen Enemy as we do from Coronavirus?

There is an enemy who is hard at work in your life. He doesn’t want to take you out all at once, but instead, bit by unseen bit. He uses distraction, insecurity, fear, self-confidence — or whatever your weak spot is — and he’s lurking around every corner. He desires to alter your course by one degree here and one degree there in an effort to keep you from the plans the Lord has for your life. He’s working to do this even now, during this time of social distancing and staying at home. This enemy has been around long before anyone heard of Coronavirus, and will be around until Jesus returns.

So what if, when the fear of the virus has abated and we’ve stored our gloves and masks away, we continued to “suit up” against this everyday enemy? 

Ephesians 6:11-18 gives us sound advice not only how to do that, but also why we should do it. (Emphasis below is mine.)
“Put on the full armor of God {why?} so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood {it’s easy to think people are our problem!}, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of the dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when {not if} the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist {if we don’t know the truth we will be easily deceived}, with the breastplate of righteousness in place {protect your heart}, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace {walk unafraid, because God has everything under control}. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith {the historically long shield made for battle is an essential protector}, with which you can extinguish all {not some of} the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation {don’t let your mind become a battleground for the enemy} and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

This, dear friends, is the ultimate protection. Stronger than an N95 mask, more powerful than a Lysol wipe, more fail-proof than leaving packages outside your door for three days.

While Coronavirus will never go away, its presence in our lives will eventually diminish. A team of scientists will develop a vaccine, and the Spring of 2020 will be written up in history books. Our children’s children will look at us with wide eyes and ask incredulously, “Were you alive way back then?” And we will tell them our stories — of those we lost, of how we protected ourselves, how we shopped, how we had school in our living rooms, and really, how we did our best to survive this season of our lives. 

More importantly, I hope we’ll tell them of how we learned to put on eternal protection using the full armor of God. That unseen enemies aren’t only germs, but also the small and large attacks on us in our daily lives designed to distract us from the Lord’s plan for us. I hope we’ll reassure them that God, in His unfailing goodness, not only gave us a battle plan and told us how to follow it, but He’s already won it for us.

All we have to do is get dressed.

~ Elizabeth Elliot