For 2014, my church here in Berlin is declaring a ‘year of victory’. They didn’t make it up; the Bible states in Romans 8:37 that we have ‘overwhelming victory’ through Christ who loved us (other translations use the term ‘more than conquerors’). Either way, declaring this truth over our own lives is a step towards changing lives around us; changing this city as our praises go up and His blessings fall down.
Until you’re in the middle of a battle, however, you don’t really know what victory means. Then I found myself in a bit of a spiritual warzone.
In the past month (particularly the last week) I’ve been reduced several times to bewilderment and tears. Like, sitting on the train, suddenly barely able to keep from crying.
It’s hard to see victory when you don’t understand what’s going on; when you don’t know where the next blow will come from. You see, not all problems and feelings are black and white. These have been things that have been subtle and difficult to put my finger on, much less explain – but nonetheless very real.
There’s been a heaviness in my soul, a feeling of discouragement, and a sense of loneliness that has at times been crushing. These things can seem insignificant, but they can mess up your mental, emotional and spiritual state. I’ve been reminded of how weak I really am.
Some external situations are partly responsible, of course. I can’t change them, but I can surrender them to God and let Him use them to shape me – ‘for we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope.’ Romans 5:3-4.
I saw a beautiful illustration once of what God does with our trials and suffering. It was an image of a clay pot, which had been damaged; there were cracks running through it. But you could see that the artist had sealed the cracks with molten silver and gold, and the pot bore its scars as a triumph. The artist took great pride in his handiwork and turned imperfection into a display of his genius. This is what I believe God is like. He values us more than anything, and He gives us a ‘crown of beauty for ashes’.
A couple of days ago, I was just desperate for encouragement. That same evening my brother sent me the most affirming and supportive text, completely out of the blue. The next morning I found a card in my letterbox, full of encouragement from a friend. Neither of these people knew how I’d been feeling. God’s timing is perfect, and it lifted my spirits enough to help me climb back onto my feet.
Through this series of teaching on victory in my church and home-group, I’ve learned we don’t even need to fight these battles at all. All we have to do is take our positions and then watch as the Lord delivers, like the men in the Old Testament who won those impossible victories.
And so this is what I’ll do. I will stand up in the midst of the battle, armed with the truth of God’s word, and I will see Him come to my rescue again.
He has already won. I may not see the end result yet but I believe His promises are true.
It’s harder to admit when things are not going well than when they are, but I know there are others struggling too.
So to anyone who feels they’ve been in a war zone recently, take heart. Be encouraged; God doesn’t miss a thing. Even those things you’re scarce able to articulate are covered by His grace.