Imaginary Enemies

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

Psalm 13:5

 

Everyone has enemies… I assume.  In our neighborhoods and workplaces we might experience adversity.  Someone might steal your newspapers or take credit for your work.  Every once in a while a co-worker might actually try to get you fired, but these incidents are usually the exception rather than the rule. 

 

The reality is most of us don’t experience all out attacks on our well being very often.  I’m thinking here of “Saul-flinging-a-spear-at-David’s-head” kind of attacks.  They do happen, but they are not daily occurrences.

 

The rarity of bonafide enemies, however, doesn’t prevent our imagination from wreaking havoc on our souls with perceived enemies.  Often we think some person or institution is our enemy, solely focused on our destruction and the thwarting of our plans and desires, when such is not the case.  

 

Such imaginary enemies can do great harm.  They might cause us to be anxious- we might lose sleep over them, lose our appetite, and even avoid certain people or situations.  They might cause us to be crippled with fear.  Even worse, they might cause us to strike out in a pre-emptive effort at self-defense.  

 

How should we deal with imaginary enemies?  We should deal with them the same way we should deal with real enemies.  In Psalm 13 David pleads with God for deliverance from his enemies.  What is important to note in this Psalm is that the opposite of David’s enemies prevailing over him is not found in David’s skill or strength.  Instead in Psalm 13:5 he says, But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.  

 

For David, the key for victory over his enemies was to trust in God’s “steadfast love” or “covenant faithfulness” or “undeserved grace and favor that is motivated by God’s endless faithfulness.”  You get the idea.  If this should be our strategy for real enemies, then it should also be our strategy for imaginary enemies as well.

 

Rather than be overcome by fear or stricken with anxiety, we must remind ourselves to trust in the steadfast love of God.  We will not defeat our imaginary enemies by skill, manipulation, medication, or strength.  We can only conquer them by trusting in God’s faithfulness and grace.  

 

When we trust in God, rather than ourselves, we are freed from fear, anxiety, depression, and the like precisely because he is faithful, reliable, and trustworthy in ways we can never be.  Trusting in God may reveal that our imaginary enemy is no enemy at all.  If our imaginary enemy turns out to be real, our only hope for deliverance is to trust in God, not in ourselves.  By God’s grace, faith in him provides much needed real life deliverance from imaginary enemies.  


 

Ryan serves as the Senior Pastor of Green Pond Bible Chapel in Rockaway, New Jersey. He is married with four children.

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