WE ARE WINNERS, NOT LOSERS
When some are attacked, berated, mocked, threatened, belittled, it hurts. Surely, it hurts deep. The abusers, whether they be marital abusers, school yard abusers, church abusers, or workplace abusers, are being instigated by the demons to hurt especially Christians. The victims battle the demons, but the physical, human cohorts of those demons are the ones pummeling with words, with insinuations, with hateful attitudes the victims.
The victims of abuse feel defeated. The physical strain is bad, but the mental fatigue of the battle against them is so draining, they can feel the need to have a spiritual stretcher carry them away.
This is true for all victims in spiritual battle with evil spirits. The feeling in the natural is that you have been defeated, you are a loser. Why? Well, the pounding has all come from the abusers. The victim hopefully has not come down to their level and called names, made false charges, denied that they were saved, hated and berated the abuser back. So, since the battle in the physical sense was all upon the victim, it is natural to feel defeated.
Yet, wait ! We are not losers. We are winners.
2 Timothy 3:11-14 (KJV)
1Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of Whom thou hast learned them;
We are going to be abused, attacked in this world. The abusers come in various locations, but the devils will find some to come at you, someway, somehow, somewhere. The feeling of defeat needs to be addressed, for this battle is not a losing battle. We are to continue in the faith, continue in love, continue in prayer for the abusers. We can speak truth, we can preach the gospel, we can defend Christians brothers and sisters, but we need not, must not, resort to the name calling, berating, hateful, accusing behavior of the abusers.
We continue in the faith, knowing some vital truths, which Paul relates at this same time as the passage above.
2 Timothy 4:2-5 (KJV)
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
Most often, the abuser does not cease and repent. The victims sometimes make the abusers madder by ‘preaching the Word’, by lovingly reproving, rebuking, and exhorting with all longsuffering and doctrine.’‘ By continuing those things with the proper loving attitude, the victims make abusers violently angry. This explains the treatment of our loving Lord, and of many of His prophets and disciples.
None of them were losers, and neither are the victims of abuse today, when they continue to love, refuse to stoop to the level of hate and anger of the abusers.
Whereas many abusers want the victims to run, hide, melt in fear, agree to whatever the abuser claims will make them happy... the Christian victims rather ‘endure afflictions’, taking the verbal punishment, while offering the abusers spiritual salve.
2 Timothy 4:6-8 (KJV)
For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.
The victims, if they have remained Christ-like during the attack, have ‘fought a good fight’, have ‘finished the course’ of this battle time, and have ‘kept the faith’ despite the attacks that were unrelenting.
The abusers feel they have won. Their measure of winning is that the victim is recipient of all the abuse, and there is no harm to them, no name calling came their way. They brag to some of their winning battle. They pat themselves on the back. They claim that they are winners, and the victims are losers.
Yet as Paul shows, the victims of the spiritual, marital, school-yard, and workplace abuse are truly the winners. They are not losers. The Lord has laid up for them a ‘crown of righteousness’, for the victims have remained righteous in the midst of an evil attack.
Paul was in a prison of Rome when he wrote those passages. In the natural it looked like he was a loser. Convicted, imprisoned, waiting to be taken to the one who would behead him. Paul did not feel like a loser though, he felt like a winner, looking forward to the crown to someday be given him for his part in this battle down here.
Paul had fought a good fight by preaching good news. He preached Jesus as the Redeemer of sins, and the way to heaven. He was lied about, falsely accused, whipped often, stoned once, and still was loving and Christ-like.
The enemies of Paul thought they had won, but God was telling a different story. Paul knew he was a winner, not a loser. He was anxious to get the winning crown.
So, while in the midst of abuse, while being pummeled by hateful words, false accusations, berating, and anger, REMEMBER, the victim of such things are the true winners.
The world may think the victims have lost. Some will have sympathy or empathy for the victims. Yet, in reality, in the spiritual realm, the victim is announced the winner, it is a crown of ‘RIGHTEOUSNESS’ that is to be given to all victims of abuse. Victims are pronounced IN RIGHT STANDING with the Lord Jesus Who likewise was mistreated while doing good.
Jesus took up a cross for us, and forgave His abusers. Victims of abusive treatment can pray for abusers, and see love for them grow. There is laid up for victims, a crown of righteousness, when they get to the winners’ circle of heaven.
Paul was one of the most abused persons mentioned in the Bible. He had to learn forgiveness, walk in love, or his life would have made him to be a bitter recluse.
Paul proclaimed that in life there are many distressing problems, many demons attacking us in various ways, and many cohorts that unwittingly are helping those demons.
2 Corinthians 1:4-9 (KJV)
4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.
8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:
If we look at that passage of II Corinthians, we see some horrible troubles that many of us have likely felt the effects from.
1:4 "tribulation" & "trouble"
1:8 "pressed out of measure" so much we "despaired of life"
1:9 "a sentence of death"
Yet, through all these things Paul goes on to exclaim:
II Corinthians 4:1, 8-9
"Therefore, seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not... troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed."
The reasons we are not totally devastated by the abuse from others, from the attacks of the devil, from the distress in this world, is that ‘we have received mercy’, and therefore, we ‘faint not’.
In fact, more than having just survived the mistreatment that we need to someday forgive, we have gained some things in our battle. There are benefits to having gone through those troubles. That does not mean we would choose to go through them to gain these benefits, for they were and are difficult to bear. Yet, the Lord gives grace and mercy, we build love for the human cohorts of the devils we battle, and we ‘faint not’, do not give up in total despair.
II Corinthians 1, he tells us a benefit of having suffered from the abusers.
1. We are able to comfort others who also have trials.
II Cor. 1
4. Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted by God.
God comforted us, God spoke to us through our spirit, and through the Word a message that gave us strength, aided our healing from the wounds. Then, we see others likewise abused in this world, likewise suffering trouble, we are able to comfort them. This is a ministry, and all who have been wounded by abuse, need to enjoy sharing what God has done to us, and for us.
2. We find suffering allowed God to bring us special times of consolation and blessing. The trials allowed the miracles of power to give us times of fellowship and blessing from our loving Comforter.
I Cor. 1:
7. And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.
The consolation of the Lord, ministered to us, is a blessing that others who did not have the abuse, did not experience in the way we have. Those times of weeping, and questioning God, were met by the loving caress on our spirit by the Holy Spirit. Jesus spoke words of comfort in many ways to our hearts during those times of an aching soul.
3. We find that pride was eliminated, and our trust in God was built and strengthened.
I Cor. 1:
9. But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God Who raiseth the dead:
While the attacks were still pummeling our bodies, and souls, the Lord knew we were nigh to dying in hurt. He built and bestowed into us at that time, a trust that passes understanding. The hope and trust we received is not justified by what seemed to be apparent to others, yet, we grew in faith, while still receiving the abuse.
4. We learned the power of the church unifying in prayer for us.
I Cor. 1:
11. Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.
The people of the church, our friends, our mates, our Christian brothers and sisters, pray for those abused and suffering troubles. The Lord hears those prayers, and ‘if two agree’ the power is multiplied ten times. We have the strength of the church to stand against the cohorts of the devil. Prayer has a power we do not fully understand until we come in need of others praying for us. We learn that power, when we go through abuse and troubles.
Without troubles, we would not have these benefits. A life lived for Jesus is fraught with troubles. Discouragement and resignation to just suffer those attacks, will destroy these benefits to the problems. Therefore, we need to do as afore encouraged, and pray for those who are being used of the devils to hurt and afflict our lives. As we pray, a love grows, and we will be ready to forgive, when they yield to the Holy Spirit’s work upon them.
We cannot help others while discouraged and in the dumps. We cannot accept the comfort of God while discouraged and troubled to despair. We cannot learn trust in God while discouraged and ready to quit. And we cannot seek real prayer, while we are preferring pity and bringing others into the faith-less discouragement with us.
Paul calls the troubles of life "our light affliction" (II Corinthians 4:17). If his were "light" then ours must be helium balloons. Paul learned to glory in his troubles:
II Corinthians 11:30
"...if I must needs glory, I will glory of these things which concern mine infirmities..."
Paul took pleasure in his troubles:
II Corinthians 12:9-11
"Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong. I am become a fool in glorying."
Paul learned that the benefits of the suffering of abuse, bring great power and strength. He says that others considered him a ‘fool in glorying’. To glory in your troubles does make one different from most of Christianity.
Paul could endure being jailed by those who hated him, and still not fall into discouragement and despair. To avoid discouragement, Paul fought it with glorying, thanksgiving, praise, faith. He looked with faith to the Lord Who was with Him. He loved the Lord, and the Lord gave Paul love for even those who mistreated him.
We need to put up a fight against despair in our treatment in this world. We will all come to discouraging circumstances, abuse, mistreatment, persecutions, wrong attitudes, personal attacks, etc. but we do not need to lay down and allow the devil to bury us! Refuse the idea that the devil is the winner, and trust in the True Winner, i.e. Jesus.
The secret of strength in the midst of demonic attack through human cohorts, is to "look unto Jesus".
Hebrews 12:1-3 (KJV)
1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
F.B. Meyer said:
"With every look at self, take nine looks at Christ."
Caleb and Joshua saw the same land, the same walls, the same giants, and yet the other ten came back with an "evil" report. The ten came back discouraged, and wandered a wilderness for 38 more years. The Lord will not give the Promised land to the discouraged and those in despair. We may be attacked and mistreated, hated and despised, but when we look to Jesus we find a flow of love that overcomes all the bad effects of the mistreatment, and gives us a peace that passes all understanding.
II Corinthians 4:16-18
"For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory: while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
This shows us that our troubles:
1. do not destroy the inward man, but they build him (vs 16)
"our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day."
2. are not long in time, compared with eternity (vs. 17)
"our light affliction is but for a moment"
3. bring us great reward and glory (vs 17)
"worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory"
4. should not take our eyes off of eternal values (vs 18)
"while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
We learn these benefits in the illustrated lessons of the abuse that comes to us. We grow in love for God and find flowing from us the love of God. When the Holy Spirit works on those who abuse and mistreat us, He will attempt to bring them to repentance and change. We are in His plan, as we let the God of love use us, teach us, and bless us despite the mistreatment of the world.