“for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4

What gives you victory in life? At the end of the day, when you look over the agony of defeat and the thrill of victory, what do you attribute to the gold medal hanging around your neck?

For some people it might be that you finally made it a whole day without a cigarette (or a whole week or month or some other milestone). Others may mark it as a victory because even though the words were on the ‘tip of the tongue’ no foul language made it through the lips. Maybe you were actually at the computer and resisted the temptation to visit ‘the sites’. Perhaps you bask in the glory of the fact that you didn’t kill your teenager with words.

We all like victory over some of the bad habits we struggle with daily. Unfortunately those victories can be few and far between. Rather than putting notches in our belts for ‘making it through another day’ we sigh and wonder if we’ll ever be able to break that habit. Seems like the more we fail the harder it is to pick ourselves up, brush the dust from our clothes and move on. “Why try, really? You just know you are going to fail again. And, where is God in all this.”

You look to heaven, maybe even shake your fist and say (sometimes even audibly), “Where were you. I thought you were going to help me? I thought you loved me. I thought you’d never leave me. I thought…”

It might seem strange to you. It might be hard to understand, but God uses the struggles in our lives to make us stronger. He doesn’t enjoy seeing us fail any more than we do. Yet he knows, in all his wisdom, that today’s failures make us stronger for tomorrow’s crisis. It might be that God refuses to remove the habit we struggle with so we will rely on him more and us less.

The warrior overcomes his enemy be rendering him helpless. The athlete overcomes his enemy be defeating him in the arena. The Christ-follower overcomes the struggles in life by reliance on God and believing that someday victory will come, even if it comes through death.

Rather than focus on the battle, focus on the one who has already defeated the enemy. Rather than dwell on your failures, remember that Jesus knew the day he went to the cross that you would fail once again. He went anyway.

Today, just for today, dwell on the fact that God lives within you. He’s walking where you walk. Seeing what you see. Feeling the temptation and frustration and anger you feel. Hearing the critical words hurled at you like a nuclear missile. Be patient with others and more importantly yourself.

Do your best today as you go to battle. Try to rely on God’s Holy Spirit who dwells within you. The one who wants to guide your thoughts and your actions in every situation. Do what you know is right. And no matter what happens, remember that whatever you do, God will do what he does best—extend his grace in your life.

PRAYER: Father God, there are days when I feel like such a failure. If I were to look up failure in the dictionary I’m sure I’d see my picture right there. I try so hard and fail. I blame others. I blame myself. I even blame you from time to time. Help me, during the frustrating times of life when I’m tempted to go against what I know is right,  to remember you are right here with me to help me. Thank you for the grace you extend when I fail. Help me to remember the failures of today build the strength for tomorrow. In Jesus name, Amen.