I THESSALONIANS 2:17-20: “But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire. Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.” NKJV
OBSERVATION: Have you ever lost a battle? You were sure that you were in the right. God’s Word was on your side. And, you had diligently covered the situation with prayer. Yet – you still lost the battle. Why?
We are never guaranteed in life that we will win every battle that we face. We are only guaranteed that we will win the war. The war is against sin, death, and hell. This victory is assured. There is no question as to its outcome.
- “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever…The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:10, 13-15 NKJV
This is such an important truth to understand. Even the great Apostle Paul lost battles in his life and ministry. Paul loved the church of Thessalonica. He had given birth to this young church and wanted to return to minister to them and strengthen them in their faith. Yet, Paul tells them,
- “Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us.”
Notice the words – “…even I, Paul…”. Paul, their father in the faith, the mighty apostle who worked miracles among them, even he was hindered and buffeted by Satan. How did this happen? Paul does not tell us. However, as we read II Corinthians chapter 11, we might get an idea.
- “Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.” II Corinthians 11:23-28 NKJV
The verses above are a laundry list of lost battles. Yet, Paul never focused on the immediate battle. Paul focused on the war. And, he knew that in Christ he would triumph and be victorious!
- “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” I Corinthians 15:56-58 NKJV
The believer’s walk of faith looks beyond the momentary battle. It looks to the victory that is assured. And, in this confidence, the believer is able to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. Why? Because they know that their labor of faith is not in vain.
It might be Friday today – but Sunday’s coming!
Think about this through a real-life example. Would the Allies have ever defeated Hitler during World War II if they gave up after every battle they lost? There were battles that were lost, significant battles. Yet, the Allies focused on winning the war and this focus enabled them to push through the lost battles into their final victory.
Believers need to do the same. We live in a culture that is pushing back against truth and righteousness. We have an enemy who is always trying to kill, steal, and destroy. Yet, we have the promise of eternal life, abundant life. As we journey through life, through faith in Christ – we too may lose a battle – but our victory is still assured! Paul discovered this confidence when he wrote,
- “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” II Corinthians 12:9-10 NKJV
Our victory is not in the momentary outcome. Our victory is in Jesus Christ! When we lose a battle we do not run and hide. We run to the Cross! We run to Jesus where we find strength, comfort, mercy, and grace. We learn that – when we are weak, we truly are strong.
The battle is the Lord’s and the war has already been won!
Lord, grant me the grace to stand fast in faith when I lose a momentary battle. Help me not to become discouraged when I am buffeted by the enemy, but let me run into Your arms of strength and love. Help me keep my focus on Your promised victory and walk in this true assurance of faith.
In Jesus Name!