Victory. Pain. Sometimes the two go together. I’ve never been an athlete, so that’s a lesson I must have missed along the way. In 2017, I’ve learned that truth. From a spiritual perspective. From a personal perspective.
At the beginning of this year, God gave me the word VICTORY as my One Word for 2017. I didn’t want that word. I’ll admit it. And pain was part of the reason.
Our culture encourages us to avoid pain. To medicate. To substitute. To give up or give in. I’m learning that with God’s help, I can endure the pain because I know there is victory ahead.
This year, God showed me three strongholds that are keeping me from walking a closer walk with him. That was painful. I thought I’d been fooling him with my attempts at masking them, excusing them, avoiding them, justifying them. I turned out to be the fool.
A few weeks ago, I had to face some hard realities with a large, unexpected bill. I had to say no to some important things. Things I really wanted to do. I had to face some grim realities. I had to make some tough decisions. I had to face down some awful memories and regrets. I even had to face people who knew about my struggles.
My comfort in all of this? God honors my determination to do the hard stuff so I can have victory in the hard stuff.
It’s easy to look back now and see the victories in my life. Especially the big victories. Victory over cancer. Victory over unhealthy relationships. Victory over a destructive lifestyle. Victory over job stresses and in job searches. Victory over depression. Victory in Jesus when I accepted him as my Lord and Savior and gave my entire life to him.
It’s easy to look back and give God the credit for those important victories in my life. It’s also easy to forget about the pain that was involved before those victories were won.
I’m learning that victory is often a process of choices and decisions. Just like when a person decides to run the Chicago Marathon. He or she doesn’t just get up on the morning of the marathon, put on the running shoes, and run the 26.219 miles to the finish line. Getting to the finish line takes a lot of choices and decisions. Training. Clothing. Support and encouragement from others. Scheduling. Eating. Laser focus on victory. And yes, enduring pain.
When we set our eyes on victory, mold our wills to victory, train our minds on victory, we also open ourselves to pain. With God’s help, it’s the kind of pain that we do recover from, even if the scars do linger.
Jesus bears the scars for us. He began that work before he even mounted the cross on our behalf. Jesus' greatest desire was for his people to have victory. As he saw the many ways the enemy was using to block their victory, he was strengthened in his resolve that he had to win the victory for them. And for us.
There is no greater gift than Jesus' victory.
That truth supports my resolve to live for him every day. To claim his victory in every area of my life.
This year, God has challenged me to celebrate every victory, large or small. And you know what? When I celebrate the small victories, I find just as much joy as do in celebrating the large victories.
In what areas of your life are you seeking victory? What do you need to do today to begin claiming God’s victory in those areas? Remember: God is there to help you. Every step of the way.
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? … No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
Laura Warfel is a widow, writer, and follower of Jesus Christ. Her greatest joy is to bring others along with her on her faith journey. In 2015, because of the encouragement of the Launch Out Conference and Jon Acuff, she launched More Than A Widow on Facebook and Twitter. Today she blogs, tweets, and posts to help widows (and those who know them) find encouragement, hope, and resources for the journey. Her goal is to help all widows live beyond the label and live as more than a widow.
Copyright © 2017 by Laura Warfel