In the 80's Richard and I were introduced to "Overcomer" classes for new believers, to learn how to live victoriously. We immediately signed up for these classes, hoping they would point us to a successful life, which would include good health and prosperity. Being healthy and prospering is certainly a part of the Kingdom, but I found myself taking on the belief that if I did not attain and exemplify these two aspects of His Kingdom, I was somehow letting God down. And of course, if I was letting God down, I would not be of value to Him. The more I tried to succeed in these two areas, the more I would fail.
What I did not realize is that I had taken the world's values of success and incorporated them into His Kingdom. I did not understand that God's ways are far different from the world's ways. For instance, if God in HIs word is telling us to overcome, it means we are going to have challenges and disappointments to overcome. When He tells us to be strong, it means we are going to experience feeling weak. When He tells us to not be weary in well doing, so we can reap, it means there are going to be times where we feel like we can't go on one more day - we are worn out, exhausted and ready to give up.
So what is an Overcomer? Webster defines this term with these words: to defeat, conquer, vanquish, overwhelm, overpower, crucify, demolish and more. The great news is God has called us to live an overcoming life, and what He asked us to do, He will help us accomplish! Why do we need to stand with our face like flint and overcome? Because God has a reward for those who persevere to the end. He knew the fallen world we live in would be rough. He knew we would make poor choices and encounter evil. But He has given us a promise. All He is asking us to do is repent when needed, get up each day, put one foot in front of the other, try again, and hang onto Him and the horns of His altar as He supplies what we need to succeed each day.
Let's look at John's encouragement to the church in Revelation. John wrote this at a time when the church was undergoing great persecution and difficulty, especially during the reign of Nero and Domitian. "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My Throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne" (Rev. 3:21). And Revelations 12:11 - "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when they faced death." This scripture always reminds me of the importance of our testimony. Now the enemy of your soul wants to come and tell you your testimony is not important. Or he wants to quiet and embarrass you - make you fearful, so you will hide your testimony. You know the thoughts - "If anyone finds out what I did or who I really am, they may not like me", or "I might not be a good representative of Jesus." We allow our shame and past history to get in the way of sharing His good news! Your testimony is the testimony of Jesus! It contains the declarations of God's faithfulness and mercy, His goodness, strength and guidance, as well as His salvation, given to all through Jesus. Your testimony trumpets the news and truth of HIs presence and His glory. The testimony of what God has done in your life encourages others. It gives them knowledge of how He has helped you overcome hardships and maybe even despair. It instills in others a perseverance to keep going, keep believing, and keep trusting even when they feel like giving up!
We have been birthed into His Kingdom and matured by Holy Spirit's guidance and training to be able to overcome. Here are the encouraging words of Peter, spoken when he realized the need to help focus the church then, as we still need today, and declared in 1 Peter 4:12: "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you."
The truth is - we all have a journey with God that will result in some hardship and pain while here on this earth. We are not immune from challenges and pain just because we align with Christ. We are however given the promise that He will never leave us or forsake us, and even like the thief at Golgotha was assured a place in paradise, we also are assured of an amazing eternity with Him. Beloved, God has formed you to overcome! His right arm goes before you and fights for you. Know that He is with you. Be encouraged in HIm today. For whatever trial you may face, He is there, to love you, walk with you, strengthen you and guide you into His hope and victory!