FOREVER TRIUMPHANT, Day 23—Lenten Devotional
For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
2 Corinthians 4:6-11
The life of victory in Christ involves, first, a new relationship of communion with God, and, second, a life that is free from condemnation. Since God does not condemn us, the Spirit works to keep up from self-imposes condemnation from the condemnation of others or our own condemnation of others. Now we come to the third aspect of victory in Christ.
#3 VICTORY FOR THE CHRISTIAN IS JOY IN ADVERSITY
Jesus came, lived, died, and rose again so that the light of God would shine into our world. This light enables us to experience God in a completely new and different way, as a gracious and loving Father rather than as an exacting and strict judge. We find a new freedom and purpose in this light, a freedom and purpose that the Spirit turns toward victory.
But victory without adversity is cheap. Winning can happen where there is no challenge—the Dallas Cowboys could certainly win if playing against my son’s middle school team—but one would hardly feel that there was much victory in such a win. In the case of Christians, even though our victory in Christ has already been won through no effort of our own, it is still not a cheap or easy win. We have already seen the strength of our adversaries—the world without, the flesh within, and the devil beyond. Those adversaries produce great and grave difficulties: disappointment, disease, persecution, suffering, affliction, and physical death.
In all of these circumstances, however, joy is available to the Christian. At every moment, we feel our spirits meet the joy of the Holy Spirit within us. Suffering is not meaningless, disappointment is not eternal, and even death leads to life. Jesus has been through it all before us, and at the very moment of despair (“my God, my God, why have you forsaken me”) met victory (“It is finished!”).
PRAYER: Dear God,
As a mortal human I fear pain, illness and death. I worry that I will be defeated in life, that some disaster will steal from me prosperity, possessions, and position. But in Jesus Christ the loss of anything, health and life itself included, is great victory because any loss I suffer merely draws me closer to Him. Grant me to rejoice, then, in all circumstances. If I am blessed with health, position, or things, because I am so blessed. If I lose health, position, or things, then because I gain Christ. Amen.