How the Shield of Faith Helps us Overcome Disappointment
News arrived that I’d been waiting on for months. But, unfortunately, the answer was not the one I had hoped to hear. To say that I was bitterly disappointed is an understatement. After long months of waiting for an answer, my dream was crushed.
To hope means “to expect with confidence.” And friends, I sure had expected …
I expected a “yes.”
I expected an open door.
I expected a big move from God.
But what happened instead was …
I heard a “no.”
I saw a closed door,
and then the worst of all …I felt God was silent.
Friends, I’d been here before. This closed-door was not my first journey into the wilderness of disappointment. It was familiar terrain. I’d wandered into this wilderness many years ago after a crushing heartbreak. I knew all too well, if left unchecked, that disappointment could lead to depression and this was a prime opportunity for the enemy to attack my faith. As the Apostle Peter warns us:
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
When Scripture speaks of the enemy, it is talking about Satan, the one whom Jesus called “the father of lies.” He is our enemy because he hates God and wants to destroy the children of God. And like a lion who seeks prey, he waits for prime opportunities to attack us.
Friends, when our hopes are crushed, we are vulnerable to attacks from the evil one. In Ephesians, we learn about spiritual warfare and how Satan uses “fiery darts” against us.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. Ephesians 6:10-16
Let’s take a closer look at that last line. We are encouraged to take up the “shield of faith” to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
The shield of faith illustrates how our trust in God’s character protects us from the lies of the evil one. In Roman times, fiery darts were arrows dipped in oil that would be set on fire before being launched at their opponent. This visual illustrates how satan attacks us, except that the fiery darts we experience aren’t physical but spiritual, mental, and emotional They come in the forms of doubts, accusations, condemnations, suggestions, temptations, and lies. His fiery darts assault our hearts with words like,
If God loved you, then why ….
If God is real, then why ….
If God is trustworthy, then why …
These are examples of what Scripture calls “fiery darts.” We are told to take up our shield of faith when under attack. I learned an incredible fact about a Roman soldier’s shield. First of all, It was not a small round metal shield like we see in Captain America. They were a small wood wall held in front of the soldier that covered most of his body, or when under attack, it could be lifted up over the head.
Here’s a remarkable fact. The Roman shield was also wrapped in leather and dipped in water before the battle. Why? Because soldiers knew that their enemy would launch fiery darts at them from above. Imagine a soldier is under attack; they would then lift up this shield that had been soaked in water. What would happen next? The water on that shield would extinguish the flaming arrows.
What does this mean for you and me today? First, a water-soaked shield of faith is a picture of our lives soaked in the Word of God. All throughout Scripture, water is a symbol of God’s Word. So the image we are given is this: our faith can extinguish the lies, assaults, condemnation, accusations, and schemes of the enemy when it has been soaked in the truth of Scripture.
When I experienced my recent disappointment, I responded much differently than in previous years. Why? Because I was more grounded in God’s truth than I was back then. As those fiery darts of doubt and questions about God’s goodness began to fall around me, I was ready with the truth. My shield came up, and I stood my ground by reminding my heart …
“The LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.” Psalm 100:5
Another incredible facet of the Roman soldier’s shield applies to our spiritual covering that I’ve experienced firsthand. Their shields were meant to be used together, with other soldiers, as a fortress during battle. Imagine fiery darts raining down, and soldiers would then huddle together in groups. Instead of just one shield of protection, now they formed a tank that kept them safe from the flaming arrows from all sides.
Friends, this is a picture of the Body of Christ and is a reminder that we need a Christ-centered community. We need Christian friends who we call in times of need. The cliche is so true, “we are better together.” We need friends we can call when weak and say, “I’m struggling. Will you pray for me?”
This is precisely what I did the day I heard the disappointing news. With tears flowing down my cheeks, landing hot on my prayer journal, I picked up my phone and texted my closest friends. I told them about the news I’d received, saying, “I gotta be honest. My heart is so disappointed. I trust God, but the enemy is coming after me. Will you pray for me?”
One by one, they closed ranks around me and surrounded me with their faith. Over the next week, I received text messages with scriptures to remind me, “God’s got this.” They came together and prayed with me and for me. I could feel their strength fortifying me when I was weak. Therefore, in the midst of the fiery darts, I was shielded — not just by my faith in the goodness of God but by an army of women standing their ground with me and trusting Jesus with me.
Months have passed since I heard that disappointing news. And I just gotta stop and praise Jesus for how real, near, and good He is. Sure, I didn’t see that specific dream realized. But I experienced:
The nearness of His presence when I lifted up my shield of faith.
The strength of the Body of Christ surrounding me like a fortress.
And I witnessed the beauty of God’s sovereignty that turned my disappointment into His divine appointment.
I’ll share more as soon as I can, but it just so happened that the Lord had a very good reason for letting that door close and saying “no” to my heart’s desire. So even though I couldn’t see what the future held, and I had no clue about the door that God was about to open, but I chose to trust God’s plan in the midst of the wait and raise up my shield of faith.And sister, if that is you right now, I pray you will hold tight to Jesus even when your hope seems crushed because I promise you, He is right now working “all things for your good and for His glory!” (Romans 8:28)
For His Glory,
COPYRIGHT 2022 MARIAN JORDAN ELLIS
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