I stumbled onto the art piece, St. Michael and the Devil, several years ago when doing a Google Images search for “spiritual warfare art.” It was created by Jacob Epstein in the years 1956-1958, completed just before he passed away.
You can imagine my surprise when my son, Trey, and I got off the bus in Coventry, England—on his senior high school trip this past March—and literally walked right into the bronze statue. I was freaking out, and snapped a picture of it. Seeing my excitement, our fearless leader, Mr. Jeremy George, Trey’s favorite teacher at Hillcrest High School in Springfield, MO, said, “Jump up there, guys, let me take your picture.”
I can’t really explain the feeling of standing under an art piece like this, with such a history. I know it may sound silly, but I was nearly in tears. Many years before I had printed a picture of the piece and put it in one of my notebooks, filled with short stories and poems, to inspire me of God’s victory over the Devil.
And here I was, standing underneath it.
On November 14, 1940, the Luftwaffe, or Nazi Air Force, bombed the town of Coventry, England, killing over 500 people and destroying businesses, factories, homes, and the Coventry Cathedral.
Walking through the remains of the cathedral was humbling, and none of the nearly 40 people in our group talked much. We were told the bombing took place over 10 hours, in what the Nazi’s called “Operation Mondscheinsonate,” or “Moonlight Sonata.”
It was in response to England bombing Germany a few days before. Even though the assault didn’t cause much damage, Adolph Hitler figured he had to shake England’s confidence.
Confidence shaken, but not destroyed.
I’ll bet you know how that feels, don’t you? Being attacked with the intention of inflicting as much pain and misery as possible. Maybe it was from a friend or relative. Perhaps you’ve felt the assault of physical pain, or an emotional issue such as anxiety or depression. Or possibly you feel life in general is “out to get you.”
Man, can I relate to that.
But I have good news for you. You’re stronger than you think.
The town of Coventry took a major hit, but they rebuilt the chapel, adding the St. Michael and the Devil as a testimony to Satan’s eventual defeat. The Devil wins a battle here and there, but Jesus has already won the war.
In John 16:33, He said, “I have told you these things so that you will be whole and at peace. In this world, you will be plagued with times of trouble, but you need not fear; I have triumphed over this corrupt world order.”
The remains of the old cathedral stand as a reminder that England was not defeated.
You have scars, too. Whether etched permanently into your skin or hidden deep within your soul, your scars are reminders of how ugly life can be sometimes.
Yet here you stand.
Your scars are a glaring emblem of triumph, not tragedy! They are your personal badge of courage.
The key is to press on. Don’t quit. EVER. Look to your wounds to remind you of victory, not defeat. The message is not of the Nazi’s attack, but rather, of England’s resolve to survive in the face of tyranny.
Remember: never give up, never give in, never surrender.