Lately I’ve had to fight my impulse to whine, pout, and play the victim. I am not happy with recent developments. Am I the only one who is fighting discouragement?
In the last 12 months, a massive number of Americans have suffered virtual house arrest in a long-term lockdown that cost tens of millions of citizens their jobs and their ability to properly care for their families.
COVID-19 took a devastating toll on multitudes. To make matters worse, countless others struggle with health issues that went untreated for months due to concerns about doctor and hospital overloads due to the coronavirus. Many will not survive as a result.
We’re limping along after one of the longest, bitterest political fights in American history, and wounds are still wide open. Rioting and carnage persisted for months in some locales, and police response was little to nil. Confidence in the rule of law is at an all-time low.
As believers, we’ve gone through a season with Christian services online, in parking lots, in backyards, inside churches (with people properly distanced), in parking lots again, or not meeting at all. Many Christians, discouraged by all the confusion, have lost their weekly church-going rhythm entirely.
There is a full-court press against virtually everything Christianity stands for, with attacks coming from every quarter on the existence of God, the authority and reliability of the Bible, the resurrection, the blood atonement, the identity—and even the historical existence—of Jesus, just to name a few.
Followers of Christ are increasingly personae non gratae in the public square, viewed by many as oppressors of the marginalized—especially of those with unbiblical sexual practices or radical views on gender. Consequently, many churches are caving to the culture and going “progressive,” offering what looks like a kinder and gentler version of Christianity that fits secular sensibilities yet denies the very Master who bought them (2 Pet. 2:1).
What is happening here?
There’s a simple answer to that question. There’s a simple explanation for why we often feel outmatched and outmaneuvered at every turn, a simple reason why the scoreboard always seems to read the same thing: Lions 10, Christians 0. Listen to Jesus:
A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master…. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! (Matt. 10:24–25)
Simply put, Jesus warned us in advance. This is exactly how our Savior was treated, and this is exactly what he said our lot would be.
We should never expect a fair shake, nor whine when it is not given. We are not to play the victim. That is disloyalty to Christ. “Followers of Christ flinch at times from the pain of wounds and the smart of slights,” Os Guinness wrote, “but that cost is in the contract of the way of the cross…. No child of a sovereign God whom we can call our Father is ever a victim or in a minority.”
This is why Jesus finished his warning with, “Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known” (26).
Listen carefully to those words: “Do not fear them.” Jesus is with us. And he promises a final day of reckoning. As one person put it, “There is a justice, and one day they shall feel it.” But even ultimate victory should not be our concern.
If you want to know how I fight off discouragement, consider these words of Alan Keyes that I had posted in my study for a season: “It is not for us to calculate our victory or fear our defeat, but to do our duty and leave the rest in God’s hands.”
At STR, we measure our legitimacy by faithfulness and obedience to Christ, who alone will bring the increase. The most important gauge of our success will not be our numbers or even our impact, but our fidelity to Jesus.
When the odds are against us, we do not quit or even slow down. We fight. We do not fear the opposition, we do not whine, or pout, or play the victim. We take what comes our way, hold our heads high, and stay engaged. Because of Jesus’ promise, we are of good cheer:
These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. (Jn. 16:33)
Every day, STR stands steadfast, training ambassadors for Christ to go into the field. We show up for a debate, we do a presentation, we write an article, we post a video—we provide all the resources so you can answer God’s call to faithful engagement in whatever circumstance he’s placed you.