When All Hell Breaks Loose


I’ve seen it happen over and over again.

In the relationships I encounter, it occurs most often with two groups of people to a degree far too often to be mere coincidence:

1. First are those who have stepped up and begun to use their resources in a strategic and sacrificial way. This is much more than the obligatory “tithing.” I’m talking about folks who really get it and begin to give and invest in the things of the Kingdom until it hurts.

Yesterday, I got a call from one such person. Last year, they gave almost ALL of their disposable income away. He was reeling. Everything that could go wrong was going wrong …agony in his family, vocational set-backs, betrayal from close associates, and physical things happening that could resemble a contemporary Job. Why? Could it be because of his significant financial and material involvement in the things of God, he now wears a big read bull’s eye on his life?


2. Secondly are those who have made the decision to make the jump and serve Jesus in some form of vocational ministry. Invariably, the bottom falls out in one way or another, discouraging them to pursue such a calling and making them question whether they have indeed heard from God about the future.

These folks catch it a variety of ways. Sometimes, simultaneous with their decision, they get an incredibly lucrative job offer which rocks them. Just think what that extra income would mean ...what they could do for their kids ...the things they could have they previously could never afford …the security, comfort and prosperity. Or, they get clobbered from extended family who consider such a vocational decision sheer madness. How could they possibly throw away all that education? How could they walk away from careers and pay checks and then “beg” from others to pay the bills?

And in both scenarios, there are inexplicable and invariable physical maladies that hit out of nowhere. It is as if they have hung out a shingle that reads “Hit Me!”

Both scenarios force intense reflection and introspection. “Did we really hear from God?” “Have we counted the cost?” “Is this really what we should be doing with our lives?”

One simple, but profound piece of advice I heard early in my days in ministry has been a lifeline during such times of doubt and despair, when all hell breaks loose and you wonder where God went: “Do not doubt in the dark what God has already shown you in the light.” It’s true. It works.

At the same time, such circumstances illuminate the reality of living and ministering in a profoundly supernatural world, a truth that is too often dismissed and ignored because of our western bias against what anthropologist Paul Heibert so accurately describes as the “excluded middle,” that realm where the demonic and angelic operate. When in such circumstances, our survival may depend upon knowing how to effectively engage in warfare in the supernatural realm. As Martin Luther wrote in the crucible of the Reformation:

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

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