I was writing a guest blog for Beauty for Ashes, “How Do You Overcome Depression?” and found myself thinking about that word “overcome.” How do you know when you have overcome something? What is a person that overcomes, characterized by?
The dictionaries define “overcoming” as “getting the better of a struggle or conflict; to defeat or overcome an enemy.” We certainly do have an enemy: one that prowls around looking for those he can destroy. (1 Peter 5:8) To overcome in this case, is to beat the enemy at his game. To win! It is to put the devil in his rightful position.
The dictionaries also define “overcoming” as prevailing over opposition, debility or temptation. It is the end result of a process of overcoming a weakness of one’s own character. For some of us, the struggle is inside of us, like those with a long illness, depression or addictions. Each day, not allowing these situations to win, is overcoming.
Finally, the dictionaries define overcoming as the process to win, conquer or gain victory, a process that has a plan to overcome by whatever means possible. This speaks not just of a state of overcoming, but an attitude of overcoming.
Over-comers are on a journey to win.
So what does a person who is an ‘Over-comer’ look like?
- An ‘Over-comer’ asks “Who can I count on?” They refuse to be grasped by the realities of their situation, but instead choose to look at Who can help. David had an overcoming attitude. If you look at the opening lines of various psalms, it is clear that he knew Who to ask for help. Psalm 121:1 “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” In Psalm 141:1 “O Lord, I call to you, come quickly to me. Hear my voice when I call to you.” In Psalm 25:1 “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul, in you I trust, O My God.”
- ‘Over-comers’ choose to become enthralled by the nature of God. They don’t let their circumstances and their struggles get biger and better than their God, their God is always more powerful than anything they face. David tells us in Psalm 20:7-8, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.” He knew this, because the Lord had done just that in 2 Sam 10 when he had to face the Ammonites, their chariots and all the nations that joined with them. Hezekiah also knew that His God was bigger than any army in 2 Chron 32:7-8, he said: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and fight our battles.” The Lord then sent one angel to wipe out the Ammonite army. These are two examples of men who face devastating odds, but choose to worship a God bigger than their circumstances.
- ‘Over-comers’ are on a journey to win, they may not be experiencing complete victory right now, but are always on a plan, moving forward. This is because ‘Over-comers’ know they are new creations and that they are created to become ‘Over- comers’. Paul is very clear in Romans 8:28,37
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to His purpose….No, in all these things we are more than conquerors though him who love us.”
- ‘Over-comers’ are good at forgetting and reaching: forgetting what is past, or done and reaching forward to an overcoming future. (Phil 3:13-14) They do not allow themselves to dwell on what has happened to bring them to their current situation; instead they look to what God is going to do in the future. Joseph knew about betrayal, slavery, being wrongly accused, thrown into prison, but still looked to what God was doing, saying: “what Satan meant for harm, God meant for good.”
- Finally ‘Over-comers’ look to who they can help, they focus on helping others because they themselves are acquainted with sorrow, pain and suffering. They seek to comfort others because of the comfort they themselves have received from God. They also know that comforting others is part of their journey to overcome.
“…who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.” 2 Cor 1:4-6
Are you an Over-comer? I had to stop and think about this. It is easy to write about overcoming, but am I behaving like someone who Overcomes?
It is possible to surrender the fight mentally without even realizing it. You develop an attitude of self pity, blaming and asking “why” all the time. Why is this happening? Why me? It is also possible to surrender the fight, by staying neutral, not rocking the boat, passive, accepting, “nothing will ever change, so deal with it.”
An Over-comer asks Who. Who can I count on? Who can I help? Their God is bigger.
Father, it is good to check my heart and my attitude. It is good to check what I really think about You in relation to my circumstances. Help me not to give up the fight, not to surrender. Help me to remember where my help comes from, to rise up and stand firm, looking to victory.