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Job 2:6 Luke 22:31
Recently, I went on a short retreat to St Cuthman’s Retreat House, a place I have been to before in the Sussex countryside, a place of quiet and rest, and also good food! I had taken one or two books with me to read but as I browsed in the library, my eyes fell on The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis, and I thought ‘Yes!’ This well-known classic is written in the form of letters from a senior devil (Screwtape) to a junior one (Wormwood). Screwtape gives advice on the best methods of temptation, discouragement and generally trying to get the ‘patient’ off course. It is a work of pure genius, exposing the possible nature of satan’s methods to undermine us, and also reveals our human sin and inconsistencies which satan can take full advantage of. If you have only one book on the subject of spiritual warfare, this must be the one!
Reading the book again made me think about the nature of temptation and trial that we all go through. In the Scriptures above, we see that satan must ask before he can assail us. God has complete control over the enemy’s dealings with us. He will allow no more than He knows we can cope with (1 Cor. 10:13). It is a testament to the character of Job that God allowed such terrible trials in his life.
God does indeed give us power over satan (Luke 10:19), but there are times and seasons when we may have to undergo sustained attack from the enemy of our souls. But there is great comfort to be drawn here. Can you even begin to imagine satan standing in the Presence of God and asking permission to attack you? And yet it has most certainly happened. Satan believes that you and I are worth attacking! We are a threat to him, a much greater threat than he is to us! (1 John 4:4) And there is also comfort in the fact that God allows it, for we know that He is good, and His love endures forever, and all things work together for good for us because we love Him. (Romans 8:28). He has promised to be with us through fire and water (Isa. 43) and like Job, we will emerge refined and shining like gold, knowing His blessing more than ever before.