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May 15, 2012

Beautiful Battle: A Woman’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare

A book review

I must admit right off the bat, I’d never been one to buy into “spiritual warfare.” Though I’ve long believed evil was as real as the hand in front of my face and that Satan has his own grubby hands at work in this world, when people would claim they were “under attack” from dark forces, I worked hard not to roll my eyes.

Under attack seemed a bit much. Especially for the bits of dumb bad luck they’d go on to regale. But then I wrote a book called Grumble Hallelujah and went around speaking about our need to lament—to grieve but then grumble our, well, hallelujahs when life gets rough. And each time I’d share a story of finding God’s goodness or faithfulness in the midst of misery, wham! A fresh batch of misery would hit. Each time, it hit a little harder, pushed me down a little further. Each time came a wicked whisper: Gonna praise him now?

Then I was foolish enough to claim increase as my word for 2012—and go public with my longing for God to “increase my faith” (and bank account, if he wanted!). Where life had begun to feel on the “upswing,” circumstances took rough right turns. Where I had longed for greater faith, suddenly situations pressed me to doubt God’s very existence. Questions like Does he even hear you? Is he even there? looped through my brain as I prayed.

Worry then became enough of a theme in my life that I gave it up for Lent. And then all hell broke loose. At least, that’s how it felt in my life—as if all of hell’s demons had broken loose to attack me, to give me more reasons to worry, to give me less reason to trust, to test my willingness to praise God no matter what.

As much as I tried to roll my eyes at myself, as much as I tried to say it was only my imagination or perception, I realized, I was under attack. I had been naïve enough to think I could continue to write and speak as honestly and transparently as I’ve tried to do without any spiritual pushback. But as it is with leaders of any stripe, I suppose once we step forward into God’s calling for our lives, we have to watch our steps—and our backs.

It was while I was in this defensive posture, carefully stepping forward, that I found Mary DeMuth’s recently released Beautiful Battle: A Woman’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare (Harvest House, 2012). I liked it immediately, for many reasons.

DeMuth brings us right into the book with her trademark confessional style. She doesn’t skirt around the issues in her life that led her straight into spiritual battles. Then DeMuth sets up a background on evil and Satan himself. It’s an important anchor to a book that could otherwise get too “out there.”

While I certainly don’t relate to or have experience with many of the particular battlefields DeMuth writes about, her book offers plenty of examples (as does the devil himself), so there is much to relate to—no matter one’s experience.

The good news for those of us overwhelmed by stacks of books on our desks and next to our beds, Beautiful Battle has quick chapters with many entry points as well—so you don’t need to read through the entire thing to gain the wisdom—or armor—you may need at any given moment.

While I did read through the entire book, I was particularly drawn to the chapters “Breathing Prayer,” “Loving Truth,” “Chasing Healing,” “When Fear Rushes In,” and “When Your Mind Attacks.” Of the book’s 24 chapters, those are the 5 to which I’ve returned.

Beautiful Battle isn’t the sort of book you finish, then wipe your hands and declare final victory over any last “attack” you may face. In some ways the book scared me more than it soothed—especially reading about what I couldn’t relate to because I hadn’t experienced. It isn’t exactly fun to realize how creative and crafty Satan is.

But for leaders—those of us who are called to step out, stand firm, and be prepared for hits from both earthly and under-worldly forces—this book serves as a worthy comrade in our battles.

Caryn Rivadeneira is a freelance writer and the author of Grumble Hallelujah: Learning to Love Your Life Even When It Lets You Down (Tyndale).

Related Tags: book, doubt, fear, review, spiritual warfare, worry


Thanks for your balanced and kind review. I appreciate it.

I also wish I hadn't had to endure stuff, but God amazingly brought me through. :)

I look forward to reading Mary's book, even as I so much appreciated the transparency in Caryn's "Grumble Hallelujah." As a woman who has served for decades in pastoral ministry with her husband, I can testify to the reality of overt spiritual warfare. We lived for many years in a part of the country where the occult was called out in the culture, and I witnessed demonic activity with my own eyes that I once would have rolled those same eyes at. Many of our missionaries speak of the same.

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