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.
“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). even the evil that hurt us so badly—to accomplish such good in our lives that we are enriched beyond our wildest dreams.”
Great thoughts I often tell people God is most definitely interested in you being prosperous, healthy and wealthy. The only difference is Satan has led us to believe that is infinitely something smaller and as a result led us to believe and settle for something far less than God intends, For God is indeed interested in us being prosperous, prosperous in being Christlike, HIS desire is for us to be healthy spiritually, but that may mean that we have to become unhealthy physically, so God can so what real health looks like. Most of all he is definitely interested in us being wealthy in our desire and in our desire to live lives reflecting HIS glory but that may mean and often will that he will remove those things that make us feel wealthy or we find wealth that are actually smaller than HIM.
Satan would have us focus here in the now, to our momentary troubles and life deadening day to day life, which is where he gets us. God calls us to focus beyond and to more than we ever could imagine in HIM which is the source of real wealth.
As always Sam great post.
Hi Pastor Pat (don’t tell your mother),
I like your example of Satan’s attempted thought perversion, to concentrate on the here and now.
On one hand, we want to live more in the moment; on the other hand, our power comes from a Hope of the future, a rich life lived as God made us.
Good stuff, thanks,
A great parable for modern minds. I write often about the importance of Renewing the Mind so this will remind me of why it is necessary every day, all day. We have trained people how to identify ANTS or Automatic Negative Thoughts and delete them from our hard drive before they get too deeply embedded in the operating system. See http://www.sweetenlife.com
Thanks for your kind comments, and I checked out your site. It looks great.
Yes, we need to renew our minds everyday. People often pit our mind against our hearts; but our mind is PART of our hearts. Yes, there is a difference between head-beliefs and heart-beliefs, but the heart-beliefs are the mind of the heart.
Thanks back at you.
In Alcoholics Anonymous they call those negative voices “the itty bitty @#$% committee” (it rhymes). I’ve found that the old fashioned, “In the name of Jesus Christ, get thee behind me, Satan!” still works just fine.
I figured out the rhyme. I know it well!
Well, just to clarify: There were only five or so attacks by the time I read your third paragraph – I’m just that fast.
Hmmm, if you are that fast, you may have been attacked twice as many times. So you’re probably up to ten attacks, at least.
Warning Will Robbins, warning, a spam attack is coming.
Really appreciate the reminder…thanks! I’ve had struggles with forgiving someone and it touched my heart to be reminded that even (or rather, especially) the bad things are part of Gods plan for me too. I know what I need to do; I just need to do it (forgive).
Great example, personal and real, and one we all need.
I think the only way we can truly forgive another is when we remember the forgiveness we’ve received. We comfort others (and forgive them) with the comfort (forgiveness) we’ve been given.
It is hard. The very nature of forgiveness means someone has wronged us. WRONGED US. Done something bad, hurtful, harmful, and relationship-breaking.
It is hard. But! But, Satan wants to use that relationship-break to disrupt something that can bring us life.
Thanks so much for your wonderful personal sharing.
“If doubt is the virus, right-belief is the anti-virus. We need the vigilant awareness of God’s goodness…”
Clinging to God’s goodness is exactly the thing, in my experience, but are you sure “right-belief” is the best word for it?
i’m thinking raw trust.
I’ve seen times of deep darkness and confusion when accurate theology just couldn’t cut it. Nor was awareness of God’s goodness available, despite every effort to recall it. Trust in that goodness had to be wielded blindly, desperately.
Peter comes to mind… Faced with theological revelations that seemed so intolerable that many people who had been following Jesus left him, I see Peter just as ignorant and repulsed as everyone else when he said, “But where else can we go?”
Letting go of what was thought to be “right-belief” was actually what kept him near!
Puddleglum’s speech comes to mind, too: http://claritaspastor.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/puddleglums-speech/
Valiant Puddleglum doesn’t fight doubt with his head, which at that moment is no match for the evidence of his senses. He fights with his heart, willing to be wrong and die in the dark rather than let go.
I’m just sayin…
I love your challenging questions. Yes, raw trust is a good way to describe it. But when I say, “right belief,” I don’t mean merely a cerebral, abstract, theological notion. I mean a deep heart belief.
We can’t simply have raw trust unless there is a fragment of deep knowledge that God is something good to trust in.
I also fear that raw trust relies too much on us. Yes, we trust, but even that tiny bit of faith (God help my unbelief) is a gift of God, and throwing ourselves onto him takes an impartation from him.
We know he’s good, even if and when we don’t feel it.
God, please grant us that raw trust.
Amen to that. You’re right–if we dig far enough, underneath whatever we did that dispelled the attack, we will always find God’s grace.
I love how you relate the unknown (your thought) to a known (something we can grasp). So much of what I grew up with in Church was seemingly irrelevant to my life that I started to wander and question the relevance of it all. How you present these thoughts makes more of an impact and lets me see it more clearly when I muse on it.
Cheers, and have a great Thanksgiving
Very interesting article and as always, encouraging.