“No weapon turned against you will succeed.” – Isaiah 54:17
Prospering in the Midst of Adversity
Like a lot of sports fans, I watched the NBA finals last summer. Though I live in Ohio, the Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t my team. But, you may remember, they came back from a three games to one deficit to win the Finals, pulling ahead in the last minute of the decisive seventh game to beat the Golden State Warriors.
Then in the fall, I saw the Chicago Cubs come back from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Cleveland Indians for the World Series title. Game seven went into extra innings before the Cubs ended their lengthy championship drought (the Indians aren’t my team, either).
In February of this year, it looked for all the world like the Atlanta Falcons would complete a surprising blowout of the New England Patriots. But then Tom Brady and the Patriots did the improbable, coming all the way back to tie the game in the fourth quarter before winning in overtime.
The Cavaliers, Cubs and Patriots prospered, even though there were a lot of moments in their championship contests when it seemed like they wouldn’t. And if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible says you will prosper, even if it seems right now like you won’t.
Isaiah 54:17 is a Scripture Christians sometimes use when they’re feeling particularly full of themselves and overconfident. You’ll hear it prayed over someone who is experiencing what we “declare and decree” is a temporary setback: “‘No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their vindication is from Me,’ declares the Lord” (NASB).
This verse is true. It’s in the Bible, so we know it is. God is not a man, that He should lie! But the way you and I use that verse can make us look like we’re full of it. The attacks formed against us won’t prosper. But they will knock us back at times, and knock us down at others. You are destined to win, but the adversary of your soul will almost always keep the battle against you interesting in the meantime.
It seems to me that we in the Church panic at the slightest notion that anyone in it could be having a bad day. We’re so afraid that others will think we’re not charter members of the Church of Eternal Victory Through Positive Thinking that we don’t dare acknowledge others’ hurts, except perhaps to question the faith of those who are hurting. That’s unfortunate, and it’s not biblical.
I’m at my best when I’m authentic – acknowledging that the joy of the Lord is my strength, but admitting when the adversary is getting his licks in and asking for help when I need it (I could do better at the asking part, actually).
Isaiah was right. Satan’s not going to prosper against God’s Church or anyone affiliated with it. Good news, right? But the adversary of your soul will get his licks in now and then. It’s what he does. He’ll lose in the end. But he’ll land some body blows against us before losing.
We don’t do ourselves, or our witness, any favors when we act ashamed to admit when we’re bruised and battered. Shame does not belong to you! If the enemy has knocked you down you can confidently get up, because you’re still going to win and your victory is still on its way.
– MARK YOUNGKIN
(Photo Credit: WalknBoston)