I am a tennis player, and I love the competition. I’m even quick to applaud an opponent who makes a great shot against me. I appreciate the building of a point strategy and a clean execution of the plan…even if it costs me. I value the thoughtful process and athletic ability that give a player power and control.
The same appreciation comes through when I watch (versus play) tennis. I’m in awe of the professionals who can achieve things I cannot. Surprisingly, it does’t impact my enjoyment of the match even if I know in advance who the winner is going to be. This unfortunately happens most years when the Australian Open takes place. Because of the time difference, the premier matches air on live tv around 11pm, and the champions prevail long after I’ve gone to bed. So, I record the broadcasted battle and watch them play it out in the morning…typically after sunrise headlines have spoiled the surprise.
What might sound odd, though, is that although the element of surprise is gone, it does’t even remotely ruin the match for me. I actually find some level of comfort in knowing in advance who the winner is going to be. The points are still so exciting as the players leverage everything they’ve got and have trained for, and I find it far less agonizing to watch the most competitive rallies. I already know the outcome, so I don’t get sent into a frenzy. I don’t have to sit in the adrenaline-pooled suspense.
And if I’m totally honest, I sometimes wish life worked this way too.
I wish I knew the outcomes of the most stressful seasons and the endings to the unscripted surprises that catch us all off-guard in life. Even though I know and fully believe that God is good, I find myself still wanting Him to reveal the happy ending to me before I’m there. I want Him to tell me it’s all going to be okay and that the struggle and pain will be worth it. I want to be reassured that I’ll get to enjoy mountaintop moments on the other side of the valleys I trudge through. But if I really go into the most honest depths of my heart, what I really, truly want to be assured of is that I have enough power and control to win this game called life.
Sadly, when I make it about me, I lose.
I don’t, nor will I ever, have that much control. Nobody will…but God. These last two words are SO powerful and are two of my favorites found throughout scripture! Whatever follows these words will assuredly be an illustration of God’s limitless power and love. When I take the focus off of myself and rightly place it on Him, I can actually see the clarity I crave. He assures me over and over that I (and every believer) will have victory in Him!
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57).
For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory (Deuteronomy 20:4).
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:37).
As we all travel through seasons of life, some will be harder than others. Some will challenge our faith and perseverance. Some will require what feels like more energy than we can muster. But the reality is that every fight we go through has been filtered through God’s hands, and we need to remember that He loves us and is in the battle with us. Something in those journeys is being used as a tool to bring us to Him; to help us cling to Him and let HIM do the battling. Something is refining us to be more like Him. Something – actually all of the things – are being worked together for our good. When we seek Him in the battle, He promises we will find Him and all the goodness He brings.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).
And we need to remember, He is worth seeking, because He WINS. Every time. And every time, He brings a harvest of rewards through our relationship with Him:
- Rest – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
- Strength – “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
- Joy – “and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (Isaiah 35:10).
- Deliverance – “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame” (Psalm 34:4-5).
- Wisdom – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
- Hope – “…those who hope in me will not be disappointed” (Isaiah 49:23).
In my humanity, especially when the enemy distracts me with the problems of this world, I forget these truths. I let my circumstances stress me out, and I let the noise in my head only confuse me further. This is exactly what Satan wants. In fact, he needs us to forget that he has already lost.
His scheming has zero impact if we hold on to the victory that is already ours!
Friends, we can be comforted just as I had hoped! Scripture reveals the winner with a glorious headline every single morning that we open our Bibles: WE WIN! (And we SHOULD be comforted because we know how it ends! Hallelujah! There’s nothing spoiled here!)
For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith (1 John 5:4).
Lord, God, thank you for the battles you fight for us. Help us release the energy we waste in the process, and help us to hear your tender voice inviting us to pick up the only battle tool we need: our Bibles. Keep our eyes focused on the end, which You have so lovingly revealed: “the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen” (Revelation 22:21 – the final words of the Bible).