Seeing Power

happiness & freedomGod did not give us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and self-discipline. — 2 Timothy 1:7

“The devil knew I was doing good, so he got me down.”

I’ve hardly heard this sentiment expressed as succinctly as it was the other day by “Victor.” The men of Emmaus face many concrete difficulties that threaten their recovery and path to wholeness: drugs, sexual addiction, discrimination, lack of shelter, finances—the list goes on. But there is usually another, more hidden roadblock they encounter. Time and again we see men start to make progress in their lives only to fall back into familiar habits.

Victor was telling me about being in a recovery facility getting treatment. During that time, he said he started to feel really good mentally, physically, and spiritually: “I was reading the Bible, and starting to feel close to God.” By Victor’s estimation, this was the closest he’s come to full recovery. But it didn’t last. He couldn’t keep up his sobriety and left his treatment program.

The three components in Victor’s life—mental, physical, and spiritual—are part of all our men’s lives, just as they are part of ours. Because their physical and mental challenges can be more intense than other people’s, it’s easy for them to spend all their time addressing these issues alone. However, as Victor so rightly put it, beyond the mental and physical challenges, there is a spiritual component that cannot be overlooked. Sometimes the devil really does see someone doing well, and he exerts extra effort in the form of temptations and hopelessness to stop it.

From one perspective, spiritual attack and spiritual hurt seem like yet another discouraging area in which our men get a raw deal. But a wise person once told me that the devil only takes extra care with people that he is extra afraid of. So while our men need prayer and spiritual healing just like any of us, I have been thinking lately about this area of their lives in terms of potential rather than something that needs to be “fixed.” Why is it that when Victor tries to do well, the physical world works against him, his mental habits inhibit him, and his spirit tells him he can’t do it? It is because of society, the things he has been through, and his habits and choices; but it’s also because he is powerful, and the devil just can’t take that.

Powerful: it’s not a word our men hear applied to themselves too often, but it’s true. We are privileged to see glimpses of it in them every day. We see it when “John” comes to the Ministry Center having a bad day and “Drew” comforts him because he’s “been there.” We see it in the cheerful way “Jeremy” volunteers to do extra chores to serve his brothers, even though he’d slept on the street the night before. We see power when Victor remembers he has failed in treatment numerous times, but comes in asking for our help to find a new place and to try one more time.

The men we serve at Emmaus are powerful because of their love and courage, but most importantly because they are designed and loved by an infinitely powerful God. So now when I see them experiencing spiritual struggles, I am learning to take it as a sign not only of the difficulties they face, but of just how much work it takes to keep them down. They are not oppressed because they are weak, but because they are strong.

So when you pray for Emmaus and pray for the men, don’t just pray that their challenges will be removed, but pray also that God will enable them to use the power he has given each one of them—to the fullest potential!

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Our Mission

To provide Christ-centered support to men seeking to escape survival prostitution and embrace a life of health and wholeness.

 

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Offices & Ministry Center:
Emmaus Ministries
4201 N Troy St
Chicago IL 60618

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Emmaus Ministries
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PO Box 431
Wheaton IL 60187-0431

773-334-6063
emmaus@streets.org

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