My brother-in-law Dan Lohrmann is the State of Michigan’s Chief Security Officer (CSO) and Deputy Directory for Cybersecurity. His job is to protect the state from attack.*
What does this mean? Every day the State of Michigan experiences five-hundred thousand cyber-attacks. That’s right, half a million attacks every day of the year, or about three-hundred and fifty attacks every minute.
It’s been attacked eighty-three times since you began to read this article.
These attacks encompass simple spam to browser-based, infiltration assaults. Their nature varies from planting a tiny virus on a laptop, to flooding servers with requests (and so grinding them to a halt), to cyber-theft of priceless, electronic information.
Every attack tries to infect the way computers think. From the cheapest laptop to the most sophisticated server, the attacks try to alter how the computers process and therefore how the computers operate.
And that’s exactly what spiritual attacks do to us.
Like cyber-attacks, the vast majority of spiritual attacks are seemingly quiet. They aren’t the screaming, bomb-laden terrorist bursting through the door of the server-room; they are the soundless electronic forces softly infiltrating our infrastructure.
Like cyber-attacks, spiritual attacks are not rare, episodic incidents; they are the thousands of electrons, constantly swarming around our armor, poking about for chinks.
You may have been attacked eighty-three times since breakfast.
Like cyber-attacks, spiritual attacks target how we think. Mosty people picture spiritual attacks as physical assaults (“I got a flat tire because of spiritual warfare”). The real attack is on how we process life, and therefore how we operate. Oswald Chambers said,
Our stamina is sapped, not so much through external troubles surrounding us but through problems in our thinking (My Utmost for His Highest).
Like cyber-attacks, some spiritual attacks simply plant the virus of doubt; we doubt God’s goodness. The moment that doubt takes “root”—or to the degree it controls our OS—our lives become filled with anxiety, fear, and grasping for self-significance.
Like cyber-attacks, some spiritual attacks simply flood us with thoughts, preoccupations, doubts, hesitation, second-guessing, and suspicion of others. Our lives grind to a halt.
Like cyber-attacks, spiritual attacks try to rob us of life-giving truth, God’s true nature.
The threefold purpose of spiritual attacks
Our enemy may use flat tires as a means, but they are not his end. His goal is not simply obstacles or inconvenience; Satan’s goal is to alienate us, to alienate us …
- From God,
- From each other,
- And from our true selves.
The beginning of the book of Job describes Satan’s purpose in his attack; “[Job] will curse you to your face” (Job 1:11). Our enemy wants to change our beliefs (like about the goodness of God) so it changes our behavior (so we mistrust or curse God).
When negative circumstances arise in our lives, they may have been caused by Satan; but they may just be the result of the brokenness in the world.
Maybe Satan caused my flat tire last week, but maybe (just theoretically speaking, of course) it was because I ignored the low tire pressure warnings for the previous eleven days.
No matter their cause, our enemy use every negative event to try to plant his virus, to get us to doubt; to alienate us from God, from each other, and from our true selves.
So what should we do?
If doubt is the virus, right-belief is the anti-virus.
We need the vigilant awareness of God’s goodness. He did not create the evil in the world, but he uses everything—even the evil that hurt us so badly—to accomplish such good in our lives that we are enriched beyond our wildest dreams.
And God brought our friends into our lives for a purpose. Yes, they’re far from perfect, so don’t be surprised by their betrayals. But God can use even their betrayals (as well as their encouragements) to polish the diamond he is creating in us.
(And, by the way, he uses our imperfections—you know we have them—to polish our friends as well; we aren’t so perfect either.)
Let’s also not reject our true natures. God is fulfilling his design for our lives that will bring life to others. Don’t give up; don’t despair; don’t self-flagellate. If God cared for us when we rebelled, how much more will do through us now that we’re adopted heirs.
God found, fought, and destroyed the only hulking enemy that could totally annihilate us, sin and death. If he destroyed that enemy—and he did—we know that any other attack he allows will only strengthen us.
Look at my brother-in-law
Who would imagine that God could bring good out of cyber-attacks? Yet my brother-in-law is perfectly suited—by temperament and by skills—to attack them right back. God used spam to give Dan Lohrmann his perfect job.
Who knows what God is doing in you right now, but we know it’s good.
* For a short video about the work Dan Lohrmann does, watch this special report.