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April 09, 2010

relief or victory?

Lately I've been thinking about my goal in difficult times: do I want relief or victory

Most often, I'm just looking for relief. When I have an anxiety, I just want out. Sometimes its a relational difficulty. Relief comes when that person I can't get along with goes away. But my relief is temporary, because the root issue (my sin) has not been dealt with. So, the next time I am with a difficult person, my sin rears its head again (James 4:1). And the cycle continues, because the problem wasn't really solved. It was just put off until another time. An alcoholic isn't cured when he can't find liquor. Below the surface, the problem is still there. Relief is a temporary fix, a patch, a Band-Aid. It's easy. It feels good right now, and usually that's my main concern. Just. get. me. out.

But how different God's goal for me is! He wants to see victory. I came across these words of Jesus, as he thought about his upcoming death. "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name"... (John 12:27-28). Read that again. Jesus didn't ask for a way out of what He knew He needed to do. He knew that there was a purpose to what He would suffer. He just wanted to see the Father glorified in what would take place. Christ's goal was not relief for Himself, but victory--God's glory.

It strikes me that Christ made "peace through his blood" (Col. 1:20). Blood? What does that have to do with peace, Lord? The peace Christ made for us was bloody, intentional, hard work. It was what Isaiah 53:11 calls "the labour of His soul." We are blessed because He persevered, rather than calling down the relief brigade of angels! Victory--via His blood, sweat and tears. His victory is ours to claim, but not always without some "blood" of our own.

I wonder how different my life would be if my goal in troubled times were God's glory, not my immediate comfort? How would my prayers change if I stopped focusing on physical relief and started imploring God that He be glorified, no matter what that means? Our prayers are littered with here-and-now, flesh-and-bones requests. Paul's prayers were rich with requests for spiritual victory and God's glory in all circumstances. Relief sounds good--really good. But when I look through God's eyes, victory sounds even better. "What shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'?...Father, glorify Your name."

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