The rewards of overcoming

Can we talk? I want to talk about the obvious, the elephant in the room, if you will. It’s been a tough week for me. I’ve been depressed. I know that many people are feeling the way I have been. We are living in difficult, trying times. Many things don’t make sense and many things we hear and see are confusing. I’m not usually a depressed person, so I knew that I was reacting to outside circumstances but somehow I felt guilty for feeling the way I was. Isn’t it a lack of faith to be down? Isn’t it a sign of weakness to be afraid? This morning as I sat here in my prayer room, talking to the Lord, He showed me some things that I want to share with you. He took me to Acts 18:9-10 where we are told that the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision and said “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not keep silent, for I am with you.” The Lord asked me why He would tell Paul not to be afraid, if he wasn’t afraid? Then He took me over to 2 Corinthians 7:5 where Paul himself writes this to that church: “For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus”. Again, Paul is not only afraid, he’s actually depressed. That’s what downcast means. But God comforted him by sending Titus, a friend to comfort him. Then the Lord asked me if He himself was lacking in faith, when He asked the Father to remove the cup of suffering He was about to drink: …He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Jesus told His disciples while in the garden of Gethsemane, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”. We know that in this fallen world there will be trials and tribulations, and our flesh is weak at times, so what do we do about it? If you look at Revelation 2 and 3, you will notice that every one of these 7 churches is given the promise of a reward, if they overcome. The church of Laodecia (who many believe is the present day church age, the lukewarm western church) is perhaps given the most interesting one. “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne”. (Rev 3:21) I find it interesting that to this church, Jesus promises that if they overcome, they will be granted permission to sit with Him on His throne, just as He, Jesus had to overcome, so He could sit with His Father on His throne. Jesus had to overcome. He’s not asking us to do something He has not done himself. But, we are never really told what it is we are to overcome and I think the reason is because each one of us has their own problems and issues to deal with. Overcoming might look very different for you than for me. Now, having said all this, I want to suggest something that I never saw before this morning. In Revelation 6:1-2 we are told about the first of six seals that Jesus opened in heaven. There is a lot of question over who or what the first seal is about. I’ve heard many interpretations of who this rider could be. “And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer”. What this particular translation does not reveal is that the word conquering and conquer are actually the exact same Greek word as “overcome”, the very same word that Jesus uses in the second and third chapters of Revelation when He tells us to overcome. Now, I’m no scholar, I’m just a mother, but I do believe that I have some understanding of scripture, and when I saw that this word used is the same word used earlier, I began to have an interesting thought. What if the rider of this first horse, this white horse, is actually given power to use psychological warfare? What if this particular rider has the power to make people so depressed, so afraid, so filled with despair, anger, hopelessness, and offense at God, that they give up their faith and walk away from the Lord? What if the reason we are told 7 times in these two chapters in Revelation that if we overcome, He will reward us, is because overcoming is difficult? If you go to Matthew 24, the disciples ask Jesus what will be the sign of the end and how will we know that it’s the end of the age. The first thing Jesus tells them, and it is repeated in 2 other gospels, is “Take heed that no one deceives you”. Deception is psychological. If you knew you were deceived, you wouldn’t be deceived. It sounds so simple, but it really isn’t, is it? There is only one way that I personally have found the ability to overcome and that is to spend time with the Lord and to spend time reading my Bible. During this incredibly difficult time, spending time in the Bible and with Him is the only thing that will protect us and keep us safe. It also means I have to be willing to accept that there will be times when my flesh is weak, but that’s ok too. I don’t have to beat myself up for being afraid or depressed, as long as I don’t stay there. I have to allow Jesus to comfort me, and that requires spending time with Him. I have to be willing to trust Jesus, that even when nothing makes sense to me, He is still in control. If you have been struggling like I have, take heart my friend. Let this be a comfort to you and an encouragement. The Lord is with us and He will keep us. 

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