Sounds like an odd question, doesn’t it? Most times, when we look at the term “victory”, we equate it to war. During WWII, on May 8, 1945, the Allies declared victory over the Nazi regime and declared that day to be known as VE Day.
However, as I ask this question, what is your greatest victory, I am not asking if you served in the military and had victories over the physical enemy. I am asking, what is your greatest victory, in reference to the internal battles and struggles you and I face every day.
How many times have you attempted to overcome something in your life that is controlling? For some it is reoccurring sinful behavior. For others it may be eating based purely on emotion. Yet for some it may be fighting a depression battle inside you. No matter the internal struggle, we all face some sort of daily battle that we need to overcome.
One day, I was looking in the mirror and didn’t like what I was seeing. I saw a person that didn’t look anything like I remember. In my younger days, I was thin, physically fit and had a risk-taking attitude. Now, I saw an overweight, out of shape (other than round) and defeated man. No more pep in my step. No risk taking. I had become exactly what I swore I wouldn’t become.
As time went by, depression set in and my walk with the Lord suffered, greatly. I stopped reading and seeking out the Lord daily. I ate over 3,000 calories a day and most of it was junk. No vegetables or fruits for weeks at a time. This cycle continued for some time. My old sinful behavior began to creep back into my life. Now I really hated what I had become.
My wife and kids could see the changes. Regularly, I would be asked if I was alright. My answer was always “yes” but internally I wanted to scream, “Hell no! I’m not okay! Leave me to be alone!!!!” One evening, my wife asked me if the gym at work was open. I told her yes and then she said, “You were happier when you were exercising. Go to the gym at work and start.” I was very hesitant. We had a new baby in the house and we weren’t sleeping. She continued to gently remind me of how I was when we were younger when I was weight lifting.
I didn’t know what to do. I knew I needed to do something. One night, my youngest son looked at me with his big beautiful eyes, smiled and cooed at me. As I looked into his eyes, I saw life. Not just him being alive, but real life. Bright eyed, risk taking and eternal life eyes. His eyes told me a story that I had forgotten. Children are risk takers. They don’t care what others think. They’ll ask, “Hey why are you so fat?” Mainly out of curiosity, but we correct them because we feel it’s rude to ask that.
When I was young, I loved climbing. I would climb garage roofs, high fences and trees. At around 5 years old, I had climbed one of the trees in front of our apartment. The top of the tree was higher than the two-story complex. (I only know that because I wanted to see over the buildings and climbed to the top). One afternoon, my dad came home from work. I saw him pull up and as he started to walk to the door, I shouted out, “Hi dad!”
“Where are you?” he asked.
“Up here. Look”, I exclaimed.
As my father looked up all he could see was my little hand sticking out, waving at him. Later he told me how scared he was that I was going to slip off and plummet violently to my death. However, for me, this was normal. I had done this several times before. Even on windy days, I climbed to the top and swayed along with the tree.
This reminder that came from my baby boy’s eyes, allowed the voice of God to ask me a simple question, “Are you happy?” Immediately, I answered, “No.” Then I heard, “Then give up trying and start being mine again.” A profound reminder that I wasn’t my own. Jesus Christ had purchased my life with a price, his life.
I made a conscience decision that night to change. I wasn’t going to try and become someone else. I wanted to be me, the one who God designed with His own hands. For too long was I trying to become someone I am not meant to be.
Since then, changes have been made to accommodate a renewed life. Exercise, daily prayer and Scripture reading are now part of my regular routine. Do I still miss a day here or there? Sure. But instead of allowing that to bring depression back into my life, I learn from it and make the necessary changes.
Was I victorious? Some may say I was, but I believe that the victory doesn’t belong to me. I have learned that the battle I face is not mine, yet I still face it. So what are we to do?
Through you we push back our enemies;
Through your name we trample our foes.
I put no trust in my bow,
my sword does not give me victory;
But you give us victory over our enemies,
you put our adversaries to shame.
This psalm shows us exactly what we are to do in the various battles we face. First, we act as God leads. If He tells us to do something, we do it. Second, we go into situations with the full understanding and acceptance that He is battling for us, even though we are doing the work. We need not struggle in our battles. Our battles are fought by the Creator of the Universe, God Himself! Third, we are not to take pride in our earthly abilities. We are not to trust any device or skill. We may be good at what we do, but He gave us that ability. We didn’t earn it. He gave it. Lastly, victory is right around the corner and when it happens, you will see God overcome.
Too many times, did I try to be victorious over things that I could not control. Too many times, did I promise not to do what I should not, only to fall flat on my face. Too many times, did I work and work and work only to find my abilities were insufficient to overcome the surrounding circumstances. For too long, did I think, “I can do this” only to realize that I can’t.
As Christians in the United States, we are told that we can do anything. We can’t. We are taught to go after our dreams and goals and they will succeed, yet to find only disappointment and depression knocking at our door.
Don’t be upset with this concept. It goes against everything that I heard growing up. I even find myself telling my boys, “You can do anything you put your mind to.” Unfortunately, this is not true. Many times we hear the following bible verse:
”I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13
We equate this verse many times to success in this life. But what is the real context here?
Paul is thanking the Philippian church for their gifts to his ministry. He mentions that he has lived with “plenty” and “in want”. Paul saw times of physical wealth and times of poverty. He knew what both were like. In this context, he states that he can do all things through Christ. This means that no matter the situation, whether good or bad, we can handle it through Christ.
I want to be sure that you are encouraged. Remember when I spoke about all the struggles we face daily and how when we act to change them, we face depression and disappointment many times? Well, if we are in God’s will for our lives, no matter the circumstance, He will give us what we need to get through it. He will be the victor and we will benefit from His victories.
You and I are His. John 10:29 says, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” Isn’t that reassuring? Because you and I are God’s no circumstance, no person, no spiritual being can take us away from God. We are special because God says we are. Our salvation is secure in Him.
Our greatest victory really isn’t ours. It is God’s. So to answer the original question “What is your greatest victory?” My answer would be this, “My greatest victory doesn’t matter. I benefit from the One who is the victor in every situation and circumstance. God is my victor.”
God bless and encourage someone today.