HARASSED BY THE PERSISTENT HUNTER OF OUR SOULS!
Be alert, be on watch! Your enemy, the Devil, roams around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 GNT)
Recently, at a weekly meeting that I have with a group of young men, one of them asked me if I had ever heard of “exhaustion hunting,” also referred to as “persistence hunting.” Check out this site. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persistence_hunting) I had, but didn’t immediately connect it to the stories I’d heard years ago about the Kalahari bushmen of Botswana in the Southern African region. As he began to share, relating the details of what was involved in this type of hunting and how it is carried out, a powerful thought started to form and come together in my minds eye, an illustration of what can and does take place in the spiritual realm, but is carried out in the physical realm of our everyday experiences in life.
Briefly, the tactics of the hunters is to carve out, isolate and separate from the herd the biggest antelope, (kudu) with the largest horns, in other words the one carrying the most weight, usually the leader of the herd. The hunters then begin to harass and chase their prey down by running and tracking them, without giving the antelope an opportunity to rest or catch their breath, which they are required to do once they start overheating from being pursued in 100 F plus degree temps. The only way they have to cool down, because they do not have the ability, as humans do, to sweat, is to slow down to a gallop so they can pant and find a place of shade to rest and recover; before being able to resume at full speed. The hunters keep constant pressure on the animal by co-ordinating the attack from all sides, surrounding them while leaving few options, other than to keep running for their very life.
Once exhaustion finally sets in, the animal collapses and is easily overcome with the hunters quickly putting them out of their misery.
Until the very end, when the animal is stabbed with a spear, at close range, no weapons are used against the animal except for the intense pressure of the harassing chase. This hunting technique has been used effectively even against the fastest animal in the animal kingdom, the cheetah. No matter the type, size or kind of animal, all of them are no match for those who are experienced in “exhaustion or persistence hunting.”
I’ve seen, up close and personal, how the enemy of our souls utilizes this very same tactic against individual leaders who carry a huge weight of responsibility within the ministry and with the people they are called to care for and serve.
Between a combination of stress, watching a spouse endure excruciating abject suffering, with her at times, feeling so overwhelmed, that she suggests that if you really love her, you’ll end it all for her, by simply taking her pain and suffering away, by putting her out of her misery with a pillow over her face until it was over; an overloaded schedule, too many duties, sleep deprivation, (weekly being up and awake for stretches in excess of 90 plus hours) unrealistic expectations, constant challenges, irritating, infuriating problems, issues that continue to arise, such as, with a spouses health and then the ensuing financial pressures that begin to mount, as well as, having to deal with health care providers related to the health of family members and the increased workload of the ministry, to eventually feeling overwhelmed and isolated, hopeless, helpless and quite inept without any ability to affect a respite or give any relief to the situation. It becomes a real grind and ordeal just to survive.
Through it all, though, God uses these things to perfect and perform His ultimate purpose in us and for our benefit. For some of us, it seems to be the only way that works, so, because of God’s great love for us, He’ll do whatever it takes to break us, so as, to accomplish His will for our lives, for only when we are broken can we fulfill His perfect will.
We also can see that this scenario has been played out in the lives of biblical characters in history past, as well. There was Esau, who was taken advantage of by his twin brother Jacob, when he was so exhausted and tired, even to the point of being hungry and thirsty unto death, that he gave up his birthright for something to eat and drink. (Genesis 25)
King David was utterly crushed when confronted with his failures. This can clearly be seen by the content of his prayer in Psalm 51, but he cried out in an appropriate manner, a humble and contrite heart and he cried out to the One True God, the only one who could grant him mercy with restoration and healing.
The prophet Elijah, after his great victory on Mount Carmel, was overcome with fear and terror and as a result, ran away and hid, filled with the shame of being fearful of an evil queen. (1Kings 18)
In the New Testament, Peter was surprised and greatly disappointed in himself, filled with remorse and shame, even to the point of giving up and going back to being a fisherman, not a fisher of men, any longer, because he had succumbed to the pressure and stress and found that he didn’t measure up. (John 18)
A couple of observations that perhaps will help alleviate or at least ameliorate the situation, when being harassed by our enemy, although, sometimes there is just no escaping it. It is absolutely vitally imperative to have a strong prayer covering, a spiritual covering, a peer/accountability group covering, a healthy body, a place to go and get rest and to be refreshed, the proper amount of sleep (very important, because when sleep deprived one does not make good decisions), make sure that you are not only giving, but you are also receiving, so that, you will continue to have something to give, do not become isolated or cut off form others, stay connected, this will be difficult, but absolutely necessary. And finally, accept that, we are our brothers keepers, no one is an island, we all need each other. So, continue to pray, feed, give, receive, fellowship and worship, always being forever grateful that we serve a loving, merciful, gracious, ever faithful Savior, who is The God of Resurrection, Restoration and New Life and has overcome the harassing enemy of our souls, whereby, even if we are overcome by the enemy, if we will cry out to Him, with a humble and contrite heart, He, our God, in His love, mercy and grace, will Restore us….again and again…