Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Thrilling Agony

I don’t know a lot about victory. I’m neither an athlete nor a conqueror. I know about hard work and careful preparation. I have won some awards and there are a few music-related trophies with my name on them, but to fight and struggle in order to win … this gives me a rash.

If you were to list the things in my life where I find "success", you would notice it includes many of the things that come naturally and easily to me.

My husband leads Bible study with high school boys. They all LOVE to win! However, he grieves over all the obstacles and snares our culture presents these young men. He is well aware of the temptations John mentions in the Bible: “Lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the boastful pride of life.”

With his best inspirational coaching voice, he has admonished them, “Guys, this is going to be a battle … every, single day of your life … so learn to be victorious today!” (I love that guy:)

I know he means to inspire and equip them, but my passive, wimpy ears perceive discouragement when I think about this daily struggle we call ‘life’.
“Every single day?” I’m weary just thinking about it. Why can’t there be victory in Jesus – the end? Why must we still face trials? Why do so many temptations hiss at us - enticing us to live against our redemption? Why do we battle? Why is life so hard?

Why is life hard? Because we can somehow succeed at the easy stuff.

WE can.

With God, or apart from God … it is our choice, but we think we can do “easy.”

Only God can handle the difficulties. Only God can provide a way out when we are tempted. Only God has strength to lay mountains low, and raise valleys high. Only God has the power to withstand attacks from the enemy and triumph over death.

And He has made His power available. His divine strength is made perfect in our … (big gulp and a sigh for all those over-achievers, out there) … weakness. Admitting we are powerless invokes His power. Dying to ourselves invites Him to live through us. Losing makes winning possible.

Life is hard because God is good. He wants more for us. He wants more of us. He wants the best for us, and His best for us is hidden in Him. When we seek Him, we find Him. When we call, He hears. He answers. When we confess that we are weak, He proves to be strong. When we depend upon Him, He deepens our faith. When we rely on Him, we rally a victory.

There are times - when I walk by faith - I notice that the hard stuff can now become easy, and the “easy” stuff is really where the problems lie. Those things I am so prone to accomplish in my own strength will be my downfall. The simple tasks that don’t seem to require a divine intervention will surely ruin me. Silently, the “doable” stuff tricks me into walking by sight and I am lulled into defeat.

“Guys, this is going to be a battle … every, single day of your life … so learn to be victorious today!”

Don't be discouraged. Embrace the battle. Deny yourself and your own strength. Learn from the hard stuff that even the easy stuff needs to be lived out in whole-hearted submission to God’s goodness and grace. This is the good fight. Press on to win.

Faith is the Victory!

 “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” 1 John 5:4