INTRO: Who among us doesn’t grow up, and at some point in our lives we long for the exciting, happy lives of fairy tales.
When we are young, our parents read us stories of far off lands, and of fantastical creatures, and of happily ever afters.
There is some irony, I think, in that many of these stories are adapted from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, stories that, in their original versions were filled with premarital sex, graphic violence, child abuse, semitism, incest, and truly wicked mothers.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s collection of folktales contains some of the best-known children’s characters in literary history, from Snow White and Rapunzel to Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood.
Yet the brothers originally filled their book, which became known as “Grimm’s Fairy Tales,” with gruesome scenes that wouldn’t be out of place in an R-rated movie.
The Grimms never even set out to entertain kids.
The first edition of “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” was scholarly in tone, with many footnotes and no illustrations.
Only later, as children became their main audience, did they take out some of the more adult content.
Their stories were then further sanitized as they were adapted by Walt Disney and others.
But make no mistake, in their original versions there are some surprisingly dark themes that appear in the Grimms’ work.
For example, "Cinderella was first orphaned, then enslaved before she tried on the glass slipper that changed her world."
Also, in the traditional story of Sleeping Beauty, a fairy who was not invited to a party for the baby's birth put a curse on Sleeping Beauty—namely, that at the age of 16 she would prick her finger and die.
A good fairy changed the curse so that Sleeping Beauty didn't die; instead, she was placed in a deep sleep, only to be awakened by the kiss of a prince.
But even then, Sleeping Beauty slept for 100 years before she arrived at "happily ever after."
During that prolonged sleep, her relatives mourned and her mother died of a broken heart.
The Brothers Grimm concluded the original story of Snow White with these honest words: "They lived happily ever after, as they always do in fairy tales, not quite so often, however, in real life."
Much like the bands of paper testified that we used to find on hotel and motel toilets, these stories have been “sanitized four your protection!”
We do the same with some Bible stories, do we not?
We are happy to tell our children about the little boy, David, who faced down Goliath in an epic battle with just a sling and stones.
But if we’re smart, we pray to God that they do not look any further into David’s scandalous life, at least not until they are old enough to handle the adult themes, and the shocking treachery that David was responsible for later in his life.
Rarely is story of Rahab contained in children’s curriculum, probably because we don’t want to have to answer the question from little Johnny, “Hey, teacher, what’s a harlot?”
We even sanitize much of the story of Jesus; from ignoring, or glossing over the filth and unsanitary conditions of His birth, to then depicting a recognizable Jesus on the cross in most of our movies and art, when scripture tells us He was so marred that He was unrecognizable.
Such is life, I suppose.
Life is tough, but thank God we have Facebook so we can put out a cleaned up version of our messed up lives, trying to get people to think we have it all together.
Thank God we have church, where, when done in the exact wrong way, we present ourselves as though we are perfect people just awaiting the day we receive our reward.
There is no question that life can be tough.
Life truly is a series of battles that we must fight constantly against an enemy that is relentless.
Actually, it enem-IES!
Satan is constantly whispering to us that we are not good enough.
Our bodies, sometimes, betray us through cancer-scares, heart problems, depression, and the list goes on and on...
Our friends and family can, sometimes, add to our struggles.
And, sometimes, believe it or not, WE add to theirs.
There are battles son every front in our lives, and yet, we are God’s people, and as such WE ARE WINNERS!
But that doesn’t mean that we walk around giggling all the time.
Sometimes the weight of it all gets the best of us.
Last week at choir practice we were singing from a book that had a song in it that some (including me) in the choir protested after practicing.
It was called “Happy People.”
The chorus starts, “God's people are happy people
Happy all of the time...”
Look, I appreciate the positivity that we, as Christians are called to portray in this world,...
I truly know that my salvation is a cause for rejoicing, and greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world!
I get that!
But Happy all of the time?
Oh, and the last line of the chorus goes, “God's people are happy people, happy people shine.”
I guess “shine” rhymes with something important.
The only other song I personally know of that uses the word “shine” (or a derivative) in it is the 80s R.E.M. song Shiny Happy People.
That was totally ironic since R.E.M. generally sang depressing songs like Everybody Hurts.
But i digress...
What theology is behind the notion that God’s people are “…happy all of the time?”
We all want to be happy, but sometimes trying to find happiness can be a struggle.
Often times we search for it in all the wrong places or ways, when the answer is much simpler- God.
then we read a verse that says, ...
Oh, there it is!
But that’s only in the KJV (or NKJV).
Now THAT I can get behind!
WE ARE BLESSED!
But ALWAYS happy?
Well, again, I want you to know that God knows your heart, and even when there is no smile on your face He knows you know you are blessed.
That was all a long way to bring you to my point today, and that is that I know, you know, and God knows, life can be hard.
Life can be hard, but GOD IS GOOD!
Let me show you how good God is, and can be.
From scripture I want to tell you a story, and then I want us to have a special time of prayer this morning because I feel like the people of God, and even those seeking God are being relentlessly tormented by the enemy.
This time of prayer this morning will be for you to acknowledge to God that you now know how these battles go, and you now know how to fight these battles.
It will be a time for you to realize that you have already won the battle, God has already won the war, and the enemy, whether it be Satan, or disease, or depression, or addiction, or busted/broken relationships, or whatever else that is coming against you today IS NOTHING compared to the power of Christ which compels you!
Church, will you trust me this morning to show you this truth?
More importantly, will you trust God to demonstrate it in your life?
In 2 Kings 6, the Arameans are at war with Israel.
The King of Aram decides to set his camp at a certain place where he can ambush the Israelites.
Elisha (God’s prophet for that time in Israel’s history) prophetically warns the King of Israel not to pass by that place, successfully saving them.
He does this, the Bible says, “…time and time again.”
He pulls the same prophetic miracle again and again; Aram changes locations to ambush God’s people, but Elisha is ahead of him.
The King of Aram is VERY angry, and asks his soldiers if one of them is a traitor, “Who among you is the one telling this prophet of Israel’s God where we will be so they can avoid us?!”
He actually asks, ...
Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”
But they tell him that it must be the prophet Elisha.
So the King of Aram sends a huge army to track down Elisha.
Children of God, if you want your battles won, and your enemies to cower in front of your Heavenly Father, follow Elisha’s method for fighting this battle.
But know that Elisha’s preparation long preceded this day so that when the time came for the battle to be fought, HE WAS READY!
Elisha didn’t lay out of church until times got hard, and then decide to try to get close to God real quick so God would fix his problem.
Your battles are fought before you know they are coming when you faithfully attend church, when you faithfully read God’s Word, and when you live in the holiness of Christ.
Commit yourself to God, and when you realize there is an enemy at your gates, do what Elisha told his servant to do:
DO NOT BE AFRAID!
Know that He that is in and with you is greater than any enemy you face!
Then pray that god opens your eyes to His glory and grace, and His provision and strength to defeat any enemy that comes against you.
God gives you, if only you will take it, a suit of armor that is impenetrable.
God will place a hedge of protection around you!
Claim Jesus as your Savior; claim the armor of God for your body, mind and soul, and rest in God’s promises that YOU ARE HIS!
THIS is how we fight our battles!
THIS is how, when it looks like you are surrounded and about to fall in what looks like your last battle, if you will only see with your Father’s eyes, you will realize that God and HIS army surround you AND your enemy!
This altar is now open!
I am going to pray, and the band is going to come, and as we sing, you are invited to come to this altar and work it out with God.
If you need someone to pray with you, grab someone.
But whatever you do today, learn how to fight your battles.
Come, confess to God that you need Him, and He will deliver you today.
Let us pray...