Grace Extending

Like most of Revelation, chapter 12 is filled with powerful symbolic imagery. While many of the symbols in the book are not explicitly explained, the image of the dragon is. Verses 9 and 10 of chapter 12 make it clear that the dragon is "that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world...the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God."

Most of us understand and believe these descriptions of the devil. But do we recognize when our Enemy is at work to deceive and accuse us? I recently spent time with Sue Millage, a sister from church who is currently in an assisted living home. Sue was making steady progress in her efforts to walk again and go home. But one day, Sue suddenly felt a sharp pain in her hip. For several days the pain persisted, and along with the pain came despair. All of the worst possible fates plagued her thoughts: the pain would worsen; she would be back to 'square one'; she would never go home. She would pick up her Bible only to put it down a minute later. She felt trapped in a prison of despair.

Several weeks later, Sue is able to look back on that brief season and see how the devil was on the rampage. He worked hard to tempt her to believe the physical pain was leading her to a spiritual dead end. Based on Revelation 12, we can picture him before God accusing Sue: "She won't last. All she cares about is walking. All she cares about is going home. Threaten that and she'll turn away." Wonderfully, God touched Sue's heart and reminded her that only by His grace, only by His power and provision would she be able to walk and go home. And no hip pain could stop Him from doing that. Sue stepped out in faith just a few days ago by literally stepping out of her wheelchair, standing up and walking carefully around in small circles. She was amazed and the staff at the house were as well.

Her encouragement for all of us? "Don't think you are untouchable just because you are a mature believer and have things 'figured out'. The devil will come when you least expect it and blindside you. He hits hard." I'm grateful for God's grace in Sue's life and for her faith. I'm grateful that her trial not only reminds us of the devil's work, but more so, of Christ's work and our protection in the gospel: "And they have conquered [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony..." (Revelation 12:11). 

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