vicTIM or vicTOR

“Who can separate us from Christ’s love? Can trouble or hard times or harm or hunger? Can nakedness or danger or war? It is written, “Because of you, we face death all day long.  We are considered as sheep to be killed.” NO! In all these things we will do even more than win. We owe it all to Christ, who has loved us.  I am absolutely sure that not even death or life can separate us from God’s love.  Not even angels or demons, the present or the future, or any powers can do that.  Nothing at all can ever separate us from God’s love because of what Christ Jesus our Lord has done.”  Romans 8:35-39

We hear the word “victim” a lot in our society today. It’s become a label.  Sometimes we pin it on ourselves, other times it gets pinned on us.  Sometimes we choose to grab hold of that label and drown in it. Everything is someone else’s fault. Everyone else should take responsibility. Our past & present hurt is no doing of our own and we’re always the victim.

Friends, that’s such a dangerous place to live.  We know because of what Christ endured on earth and what the Bible tells us that we will all have troubles.  None of us are exempt. Not a single one of us. And senseless things absolutely will happen to us. Things that are truly out of our control. Things that come without warning, without provocation, without our contribution much less our consent.  We will have trouble.

Can you imagine if Paul had just gone through that long list of the “troubles” that Christ followers of his time had faced and answered his “who can separate us from God’s love” question with “Yeah, we always have this stuff. We’re always the victims. It’s always hard. We’ll muddle through somehow.”? What an encouragement that would have offered to the future church…or not.  He spoke victory in Christ over those things and declared himself more than a winner in the big middle of all of the ugly.

I heard one of the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing say recently that she refused to call herself a victim. Others calling her that was almost offensive to her. Because, as she said it, “a victim is defined by what happened to them.” That hit me SO big. But she went on to say that a survivor…a victor…is defined by how they won that battle, how they fought that fight, how they overcame that adversity.

She completely personified what Paul represented in Romans 8. Paul was a victor. The present troubles, the hurt, the circumstances were not going to define Paul. He was more than a winner.

Sometimes the difference in moving from vicTIM to vicTOR is as simple as speaking the small beauty in the present trouble. Finding the little God bits that are there for you and embracing those, celebrating those. Yes, you’re still facing trouble, but focusing on the small ways God drops reminders of His presence will take your eyes off of the storm and onto the one who calms it.

Sometimes the difference is big. Sometimes it takes looking hard at yourself and seeing that your actions, your circumstances are of your own doing.

During my senior year of high school, my parents divorced. And with that came the slew of indiscretions in my father’s life coming to light. Yep, I was innocent. His choices, his behaviors and how they impacted me…I had noting to do with any of it. I was helpless. I was a victim. And I allowed myself to stay that way.

I spent several years letting trust issues, hurt feelings and anger impact all of the relationships around me. A few brave souls stayed put and loved me through it. But it wasn’t until my mid-twenties or so that I stopped blaming my dad for any conflict I had to face. I wasn’t being a good friend? It was his fault. I wasn’t being a good daughter? It was his fault. Not a good girlfriend? Thank my dad. See the pattern there? Instead of allowing God to heal me, restore me and grow me, I was content to stay a victim and blame my dad for any bad behavior on my part.  It took a complete God sized work to allow me to heal and to forgive. And also to see that no matter what my dad had done, I and only I was responsible for my actions.

God really brought beautiful things from such an ugly circumstance. And had I chosen to be a vicTOR sooner, He could have revealed so much more.

Friend, I want to challenge you. If you find yourself in the middle of “present troubles” like Paul wrote about, look for the little God things while you wait for God to bring you through.  If you feel like you find yourself constantly in the midst of “present troubles”, always feeling like the victim, I challenge you to approach your Father with a open heart. Is there something He wants to heal and restore in you? Is there a rough edge that He wants to smooth in you? That process isn’t always easy or fun, but it is so very worth it.

Today, friend, find the God things and focus on them. Choose to be a vicTOR in your present troubles.

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