For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:4-5 ESV
Ashes. It seemed everywhere I looked there were ashes.
I was a failure. I knew it for sure. My kids were bickering. My house was falling apart. I could not get on top of my to-do list. My foot still ached from the injury two years ago.
“Where is the victory, Lord?” I whispered. “Where?”
It felt like I had been fighting the same battles for years. Battles of self-discipline, of teaching my children character, of living a life of character, of taming my anger. It felt hopeless.
“I have faith, Lord. I believe. Where is the victory?” my voice cracked in desperation.
Often I do not understand what victory really means. I hope victory looks like an easy life. A life of no stress that flows peacefully and purposefully along. A life without struggle. And in some ways, this is truth. God won the victory over sin and death through Jesus. (I Corinthians 15:54-56) But God also calls us to the wonderful life of working out our own salvation in fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12-13) I must work on my relationship with God if I am going to overcome anything.
Like a flash, another thought flitted through my mind: there is no victory without a battle, no winning without a struggle. Battles go hand-in-hand with overcoming, with victory. Perhaps the ashes around me were only part of the battle, only the middle when all hope seems lost. In the darkness when God’s promises seem the least likely to be true, that is when I must cling to them all the more. God promises in the midst of the battle that He is near, He uses the battles to grow me, He has plans for my good and His glory.
His glory…even Jesus’ greatest victory came in what looked like defeat. He was dead, in the grave three days. Defeat seemed obvious. But Jesus rose again. Could it be that in the midst of what appears to be my biggest defeat, God is working a sure victory for me? Could all the ash, frustration, fear, and fatigue be God’s tools to make me more like Jesus?
The battle is not lost, it still rages, but we know the end. Victories may come in small steps, amazing turnarounds, or not until we meet Jesus face-to-face. Still in Jesus, the victory is assured.
Are you living in victory now? Praise God for what He is doing.
Are you living in defeat now? Ask God to give you eyes to see His hand moving and a heart steadfastly clinging to His promises.
Are you between? Pray that God shows you what battles you need to fight next.
Father God, The battles in life are so draining. Sometimes it seems that everything around us is ash and dust and disaster. Help us in the midst of the battles to cling to You, seek You, trust You. Help us when we see the shining days of victory that we give You all the glory and praise. May we seek to live by Your Spirit, in Your victory – whether we see it fully on earth or not – and for Your glory in all things. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.