Dare to Claim Victory!
Updated: Apr 7, 2020
One of the greatest shocks a believer in Jesus Christ can undergo is facing sudden, overwhelming adversity and finding the amount of faith and trust they have in God is inadequate for the challenge.
Maybe it’s a bad report from the doctor, a family situation that’s spiraling out of control, or bad news on the professional or educational front. The fact is, we often don’t know how much faith we truly have (or don’t have) until it’s tested. A preacher I know compares tests of our trust in God to driving in the mountains with a large, powerful SUV. The vehicle never uses all the power available to it until it reaches that steep mountain pass; suddenly, power you didn’t know was there is working in your favor.
Unfortunately, the opposite can also be true. We're coasting through life and checking the box on all our religious duties. Church attendance, check. Bible study, check. Helped on a special project, check. We’re all good. Then comes a sharp emotional, medical, or interpersonal blow and we find our check-the-box religion doesn’t equip us with real, persevering faith.
The first thing we learn from the Word of God regarding these earth-shattering events is that they’re no surprise to God. He didn’t get up this morning, turn on the news and say, “Whaaaat? I didn’t see that coming!” In other words, God's got this. Take a deep breath and say, "Thank you, God. I know that only YOU have the last word on this situation."
Reading Psalm 147:4-5, I’m reminded that God’s understanding – His omnipotence – is so far above ours, we’ll simply never be able to grasp even a portion of His incredible intelligence. He wants to use this situation, no matter how grim, for His glory and your good. Will you cooperate with Him in that effort? “He counts the stars and calls them all by name. How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!”
The Bible also teaches us that God wants to provide us with the mental, emotional, and spiritual tools to come through each and every adversity better off than we entered them!
In Greek, our English words Persevere and Endure are basically the same word: Hupo-meno. It means to “not run away from” or to stick it out. Picture someone in a battle. They come under attack. Their emotions tell them to cut and run, but their training and maturity says, “That may be what other people do, but that’s not what I do. Because of God, I’m made of stronger stuff than that. And because of the Spirit of God living within me, I’m going to make it through every situation.”
The story of King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles, chapters 17-21, is an illustration of how we’re supposed to face overwhelming circumstances. In chapter 20, verse 20 we see this man of God facing an overwhelming situation for which there’s little or no chance of victory by human reasoning. But he claims victory anyway! Not because of who he is, but because of the incredible power, love, and might of the God whom he serves.
Here is Jehoshaphat’s declaration: “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.”
To prove his faith, he instructed his people to march into battle with musical instruments instead of weapons; to lift up praise songs instead of battle cries. That’s absolutely insane by worldly reckoning. But in God’s economy, it makes perfect sense.
“In and of myself, I don’t have what it takes to get through this situation. But with God going before me, behind me, and beside me, I am more than a conqueror. God is my victory!”
First John 4:4 says, “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” You may not yet understand HOW God is going to bring you through a situation, but you start by claiming THAT God is going to bring you through. If you concede defeat before the first bullet is even fired in a battle, what chance do you have at victory? Every victory happens in the mind and in the emotions BEFORE it can happen in the world.
Before a carpenter can make a table, he has to see the table in his head. Before an engineer can construct a bridge, the has to see the bridge in her head. Before you can see victory over life’s circumstances, you have to see the victory. It’s okay that you don’t see HOW it’s going to happen, but you declare THAT it’s going to happen.
We talked about the Greek word for endure or persevere; a word that means to not run away from a challenge. In Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament, the word for persevere means to CAREFULLY HOLD ON TO SOMETHING PRECIOUS when there’s a danger of it being dropped in the tussle of life. What is it God wants you to hold onto when life is pulling and grabbing at you? Your faith!
In English, the etymology of the word persevere indicates a strict adherence to a set of beliefs or practices as you pass through a severe time. The etymology of the word endure indicates a willingness to go through difficult times… times even of suffering… without breaking or giving up. Literally, it means to be committed to unwavering steadfastness. And here’s something really important: we can’t develop that kind of perseverance, that kind of endurance on the fly. We’ve got to enter the contest already equipped with them.
The Bible is very clear in Ephesians 6, starting in verse 10: “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
Whatever you’re going through, be audacious! Claim victory right now and keep claiming it in the mighty name of Jesus, amen.