“Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13 NKJV
In the second year after moving to N. Carolina, I experienced allergies unlike anything else I have ever encountered. Having grown up in Texas and then living in Florida for an extensive period of time, I have been accustomed to having to acclimate to the various allergens in those climates. However, last year, when the oaks “popped” in Raleigh, the pollens nearly wiped me out. I was taking two to three allergy medications a day in addition to nose sprays and it still didn’t seem like enough. What was confusing to me was that I didn’t experience this in the first year of moving here, but I did in the second year. Strange, I thought. Until I was reading the book of Ephesians and came across this verse.
“Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand…..”
I’ve made a practice of listening and watching for any words that are highlighted to me when I’m reading the Bible. Even if I’ve read them before and even if I think I have a good understanding – a good picture – of what the word means. This time, the word “withstand” stood out to me. I felt led to pause and dive in a little deeper. Almost immediately, I began seeing what God was trying to point out to me.
The word “withstand” comes from the Greek word, “anthistemi“, from where we get the word “antihistamine”. I didn’t have to go very far because my study Bible provided some additional commentary on this: “Just as an antihistamine puts a block on histamine, anthistemi tells us that with the authority and spiritual weapons granted to us we can withstand evil force.” I instantly got the picture. If I take allergy meds, I stop reacting physically to the pollens in the environment. If my spiritual armor is strong enough, I am able to “withstand” the “allergens” that surround me.
In my own journey, I have come to know for a fact that with many of the things we experience physically, there is a very direct correlation in the spiritual. Some illnesses are strictly physical, but many of them stem from an issue of the soul (our mind, will & emotions) and many of them are the result of something more spiritual in nature. All we have to do is look at how Jesus healed. Oftentimes, forgiveness of sin healed the dis-ease of those afflicted. Other times, He would cast out evil spirits that had people bound and in pain. And yet other times, He focused specifically on healing the natural, physical source of their ailment.
As I continued to read slowly over the implements of the armor of God as depicted in Ephesians 6, I began assessing personally how “strong” I felt in those areas. I knew my armor needed some attention to withstand the environment I was now living in. My armor had been built up enough to “stand” in the spiritual atmosphere I came from, but this wasn’t the same field of battle. If I continued to rely on the same areas of strength as before, my armor would continue to be compromised, I would be leaving myself vulnerable in some areas, and my physical body would eventually start to experience the affects of it. Honestly, the intensity of my reaction to the pollens (in the second year, mind you) proved to me that there was already a breakdown starting to happen.
While I’m thankful for the advances in medicine, and I’m thankful there were antihistamines I could take to help me through that season so I could function, I began attacking this from a spiritual angle and I began learning how to strengthen my immune system more naturally. My environment was clearly telling me I needed to do this! So my goal was to strengthen myself more spiritually and build up my immunity physically so that when pollen season came the following year, I’d make it through without having to take the medications.
Well, the 2018 pollen season came and went and I never took – not one – allergy medicine. I still sneezed a couple of times, there were days I woke up with a runny nose. But nothing even close to the wipe-out I experienced before. That tells me there’s still more strengthening I can do, but I’m heading in the right direction!
Taking communion and anointing myself with oil have become two regular practices. I’ve also gotten really intentional with my focus in prayer and I made some changes in my study/personal time. When it comes to my natural diet, I’ve incorporated a lot more foods that strengthen our immune system. As you may know from following my blog, I like to juice quite a bit. Adding ginger to my juices made a huge difference.
I share all of this because in my observations, I think we can get way too accustomed to just reaching for a pill whenever we begin experiencing some level of physical discomfort. Without even considering that there may be a different explanation behind what’s causing it. Without even considering that what we’re experiencing physically may be an indication of our spiritual atmosphere or an issue of our soul that needs tending to. And in the process, we don’t deal with the real issue but mask it with pills and we continue down a path of weakening.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I am PRO-medicine and I have no problem if God chooses to bring healing at the hand of doctors and/or medication. There are some situations where on-going medication is simply required. I get it. I know there are exceptions and I’m not advocating for you to just stop taking whatever medicines you’re on. But what I am saying is that I think a lot of times, we could really benefit from pausing for a second, asking ourselves some hard questions, thinking through these things with a spiritual/kingdom filter, and considering if there are contributing factors where we could make some changes to experience relief and/or healing.
Here’s what I know to be true: two of the greatest benefits of operating in the Kingdom of Heaven is health and strength. We do still live in a world where the fullness of this health and strength will not always be fully manifested. It will one day. But for now, that doesn’t mean we just throw in the towel and let ourselves get dragged along with the system and the decay of the natural. We must continue to live according to what we know to be true, the realities of heaven, and continue to press into that realm, activating our faith with our actions.
Thanks for reading. I pray that wherever you are in this journey, beloved friend, I pray that you are prospering in every way and that you continually enjoy good health, just as your soul is prospering. (3 John 1:2 TPT)
May God bless you with His grace and peace.
Linda G. Riddle