Victory rarely looks or feels like we had it pictured in our mind.
We hold visions of swords raised in triumph, with laughter and praise lifting us to the heavens and beyond. Life often doesn’t look like that, though, does it?
At the end of Braveheart, Randall Wallace had to die for his country to achieve victory.
In the final moments of The Lost World – Jurassic Park, we don’t find Jeff Goldblum and Julianne Moore soaking up the praises of the cheering mobs whose lives were spared because of their efforts. No, they’re asleep on the couch. Now that’s MY kind of ending.
After Elijah defeated the Priests of Ba’al, in what some consider the greatest victory recorded in the Bible, aside from the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, is he lauded by the masses? No, man, he gets so depressed he plops down under a tree and begs God for death.
Think back on your greatest victories: perhaps you beat the demon of suicide or cancer, or maybe you conquered the dark spirit of addiction. It’s victory, yes, but in the grand scheme of things, was just one more battle in this WAR we call “life.”
But it was victory, nonetheless.
So what does “victory” look like from God’s perspective?
Well, I think it looks like this:
“Survival?” you may inquire. “How is THAT victory?”
You’re still here, aren’t you? How many AREN’T, but you are. That’s victory, brothers and sisters. That’s a win.
“Laughter?” you might ask. “How is LAUGHTER a victory?”
People are desperate for light and laughter these days. Times are dark, so if we can bring a little sunlight into someone’s darkness, that’s victory.
You may feel SMALL, but check out the story of a small boy whose tale is still whispered in reverence, even thousands of years later…
The nation of Israel was at war with the Philistines, and things weren’t looking good. The Philistines’ mightiest warrior, Goliath, came to the front of the line and began to taunt the armies of the living God. This dude was huge, nearly 10 feet tall, like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s older, taller, loud-mouthed brother.
You could see the bloodlust in his eyes, and his breath wreaked of the flesh of his victims. The Israelites judged this man with their physical eyes—as most of us would—but there was one young man who rose up in righteous anger, and went to the King.
“Master,” said David, “don’t give up hope. I’m ready to go and fight this Philistine.”
King Saul must’ve laughed, and answered David, “You can’t go and fight this Philistine. You’re too young and inexperienced—and he’s been at this fighting business since before you were born.”
Saul doesn’t say, “I’d rather you not fight.” No, he said, “You can’t fight this guy. He’ll eat you alive. You’d barely be a snack for him.”
But David said, “I’ve been a shepherd, tending sheep for my father. Whenever a lion or bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I’d go after it, knock it down, and rescue the lamb. If it turned on me, I’d grab it by the throat, wring its neck, and kill it. Lion or bear, it made no difference—I killed it.”
Now, that’s awesome, but listen to David as he continues…
“And I’ll do the same to this Philistine pig who is taunting the troops of the most high God. The same God who delivered me from the teeth of the lion and the claws of the bear will deliver me from this Philistine.”
Saul probably wanted to say, “It’s your funeral, boy,” but instead, replied, “Go, and God be with you!”
“Nice kid,” Saul thought to himself. “STUPID, but nice. I’m sure his daddy will miss him.”
Then David took his shepherd’s staff, selected five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s pack, and with his sling in his hand approached Goliath.
Picture this: the tallest, biggest, strongest, mightiest killer to ever grace the planet, and a young boy begins to walk toward him with a freakin’ SLINGSHOT. That’s certifiable. As the Philistine paced back and forth, his shield bearer in front of him, he noticed David.
So the Philistine admired the youngster’s pluck, right? No, he ridiculed David. He took one look down on him and sneered—a mere youngster, apple-cheeked and peach-fuzzed. “Am I a dog,” he mocked, “that you come after me with a stick?” And he cursed him by his gods.
But David wouldn’t back down, so Goliath roared, “Come on! I’ll make roadkill of you for the buzzards. I’ll turn you into a tasty morsel for the field mice.”
David answered, “You come at me with sword and spear and battle-ax, but I come at you in the name of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel’s troops, whom you curse and mock! This very day God is handing you over to me. I’m fixin’ to KILL YOU, cut off your head, and serve up your body and the bodies of your Philistine buddies to the crows and coyotes. The whole earth will know that there’s an extraordinary God in Israel. And everyone gathered here will learn that God doesn’t save by means of sword or spear. The battle belongs to God—he’s handing you to us on a platter!”
I think it’s worth repeating that:
THE BATTLE BELONGS TO GOD.
It’s not your fight.
Anyway, that ticked the Philistine off, and he started toward David. This was gonna be easy-peezy-lemon-squeezy, bro. He’d slain the greatest the world had to offer, and this was a mere child. He was barely gonna break a sweat.
It’s important to note David, who didn’t shrink back from the fight, but instead, took off running toward the Philistine. I mean, he literally RAN to the battle! Crazy. Then David reached into his pocket for a stone, slung it, and hit the Philistine hard in the forehead, embedding the stone deeply.
Then “Goliath the Mighty,” the nearly-10-foot-tall warrior who had never known defeat, came crashing to the ground, and lay facedown in the dirt.
David ran up to the Philistine and stood over him, pulled the giant’s sword from its sheath, and finished the job by cutting off his head. When the Philistine army saw that their great champion was dead, they scattered, running for their lives. (From I Samuel 17)
So David was praised as a hero, but a while later, King Saul “rewarded” David by chasing after him for a few years, trying to kill him.
Yeah, victory rarely looks like we have it pictured in our head.
With that being said, I’d like you to realize that you are a walking, talking miracle. In these trying times, when the depression, addiction and suicide rates are all soaring, the fact that you are still with us is VICTORY.
Don’t be afraid. The Lord is with you. The God who delivered the mightiest warrior the world had ever seen into the hands of a young Israelite is the God who walks with you today. The same God who shut the mouths of ravenous lions in Daniel chapter six is the same God who goes before you into battle, to shut the mouths of those who would seek to destroy you.
God has not abandoned you, and just because life doesn’t look like what you had pictured, you’re still walking in victory. When the spirits of fear try and sneak up on you, go to war with them, using the Sword, the very Word(s) of God:
“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand’” (Isaiah 41:10).
“Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught” (Proverbs 3:25, 26).
“The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed” (Psalm 46:1, 2).
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).