How to fight the war within

Published 7:45 pm Friday, January 25, 2013

America is at war with itself. Gun violence lives at our schools, on our streets, and in our homes. When did it become so familiar to hear of a teenager gunning down his family or a deranged, damaged soul emptying magazines of ammunition into rooms filled with elementary school children?

We are at war with our self as a nation, because we are at war with ourselves as the people who comprise this nation. And there is no worse enemy to have than oneself.

There is no enemy more knowledgeable of our weaknesses than us. There is no enemy more capable of infiltrating our lines, gaining an unfair advantage, or fighting with more severity and indignation.

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Families are at war. Children spew disrespectful venom upon their parents, and parents provoke their children to wrath through active neglect, preferring wealth and hobbies over the investment of time into their progeny.

Irresponsible men produce children when they have no interest in the children and only a passing interest in the mother. Commonly, women are no longer the guardians of chastity, having confused physical contact with true intimacy.

The family is rotting on the inside and decaying on the outside.

The problem of self-inflicted and internal conflict is not only a collective national problem. Individuals are at war in their own souls. If we are honest, we would have to say that each one of us is at war with ourselves as well. This is the point of the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:24 when he decried himself saying “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (NET)

The war within rages as we do not do those things that we know we should do and do the things that we know we should not do. We shout words of anger to those we love, while adoring destructive habits we hate.

François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld wrote, “The violence done to us by others is often less painful than that which we do to ourselves.”

But how do we escape? How do we win the war within?

Fight a better battle. Fight the battle with different weapons. Anger is only crushed by love. Hatred is not the opposite of love; it is its first cousin, and it is always trying to move in.

We cannot confront the battles that rage in America unless we confront the battles that rage in our hearts. America isn’t something out there. It’s us. We are they. And we can’t love someone else through their anger until we smother your own anger to death with love.

Some battles are better wrestled with warm hearts than hard hands.

As a former Marine, and I understand the nature of conflict and warfare.

But I am now a friend to pilgrims on the journey of faith. I am fully immersed in the conflict and violence that rages within people’s souls.

Battles within are not waged the same way as other battles, at least not if you want to win. A military battle is a contest of might and wrath. The side that has the sharpest, fastest, and most furious spear is most likely to win the contest. In conflicts that rage in the hearts, homes, and hamlets of men, it is love that rights the scales of justice, not the strength of the spear or sword.

On the internal battlefield, it is the weapons of God’s eternal love, not man’s strength, that prevail.

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at