"If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31b (NIV)
My brother and his children gave Melea a giftcard to Target for Christmas. She couldn't wait for the chance to go to Target, choose just the right items...making sure the cost came out just right, and pay for it herself...even the extra cents for the tax. The young lady at the cash register was so kind and patient and treated Melea just like a grownup. Melea chose a DVD and the game "Battleship." Melea loved the fact that the giftcard came from my brother, and that he and I had loved playing the game when we were children!
Yesterday as Melea and I played, I found myself wanting to let her win...even help her win...with comments like, "Whew! That was close!" or "Oh, you almost got me!" I wanted to make it easy for her. But is that the best thing to do? She really needs to learn things like good sportsmanship, tenacity, strategy, the ability to cope when things just don't come easy. (And by the way, she is getting that from her Daddy...highly competitive....Yep, he enjoys winning!) As we were playing, and I was thinking how much I love to see my sweet girl have victory, the verses came to mind from Matthew 7:9-11, which say, "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" But is the "good gift" always in the form of an easy win?
In Romans 8 (and I encourage you to read over the whole chapter), Paul says (in verses 14-18) that "because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons (and daughters) of God...The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." And skipping down to verses 31-32, "What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all--how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?"
Paul also encourages us in Philippians 3:8-14 (and again, the whole chapter is so rich), "What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own...but that which is through faith in Christ....Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me....I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
So, what's the prize? The victory? A heritage as sons and daughters of the Most High--co-heirs with Christ! Glory that comes from enduring...and trusting the words of Jeremiah 29:11 "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
And remember, when you feel as if you are on life's "battleship" with waves crashing...the engine pushing you into unknown waters...with a fear of what lies ahead, or facing a fierce enemy, that we are sons and daughters of the Victor!! "When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you..."[believe that] "You will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies." Numbers 10:9
Lord, Abba, Father, thank you for your great love. Thank you for the many promises in Your Word that remind us of the depths of your Fatherly love for us, and for your desire for us to be victorious! Help us to seek you, to trust you, to believe you...even when it's not easy...even when it requires suffering. Help us in our unbelief. We want to be like you.