We know those stories of victory and overcoming — those who finished the battle, won the reward, and experienced pure freedom from their previous oppressor. Those are the stories that are shared most often and are so well-known.
But those aren’t the only stories.
Sometimes, the battle continues on, even after all has been said and done. Some of us never find full relief from our battle against certain sins or problems. Though we have memorized the Bible verses, read the books, prayed each day, taken the advice, and obeyed God, we still continue to spill sweat and blood in our battle.
My battle against anxiety wages on. Anxiety carves a long scar that touches every area of my life. Now, at the age of , a follower of Christ, married, a new mom, and a biblical counselor in training, anxiety is still a present battle in my life.
I used to imagine the day I would be free from anxiety. I pictured myself encouraging others who battled by saying that they too, someday, could find healing and peace. I imagined writing a book about how I overcame anxiety and others could too. I pictured that triumphant day, swinging my legs over the side of my bed, and smiling into the new day, anxiety-free. Instead, I sit on my bed, -years-old, still waging war with anxiety.
And yet, I know this is a story of hope.
But my hope is no longer in someday winning the war against anxiety. My hope is placed in the God who has stood by me and shone His glory into every piece of this anxiety. My hope is in His promise to bring me to completion (Phil. 1:6) and to do all for my good and His glory.
When our hope is placed in complete healing and overcoming without any struggle, our hope may shatter as we watch others triumph while we are still in the trenches. But God has not promised us a painless or effortless life. We cannot place our hope in something God has not guaranteed.
Our hope, instead, needs to be placed in the sovereign and good God of the universe. We have a much greater hope in him than being “completely fixed” could ever bring. Our hope in him is that He is still in control of this situation; He is the only One with the power to take this battle away or to let it press on, and if He has chosen to allow it to continue, then that is the best choice. God is perfectly wise, good, gracious, and just. We can trust that whatever battle He allows in our life today, it has a reason.
Peter explains this hope we have:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3-7)
We are being tested by fire, and though the burning flames are painful, we can cling to hope in Christ. Though the testing can be long and agonizing, we can trust God does this out of His goodness and love. He has already given us a glimpse into the depths of His love by saving us from eternal condemnation through Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. We not only have Scripture to proclaim God’s good intentions towards us, but we also have this evidence: Christ died for us undeserving sinners so that we could have peace with God. In the midst of our battle, we can hold to this hope.
This battle is wearisome. It’s tiring. That’s why we keep our eyes open and watch. We keep our eyes fixed on God who is our only hope. Each day, we wake up, pray for God to help us, and then press onward in the battle to be obedient in whatever struggle we are fighting. We move forward in prayer, thinking on things above, doing God’s will, and loving him above all. And we watch for how God is using this struggle to His glory, to encourage us in our battle forward. And we keep our eyes set on our eternal hope; one day we will be redeemed and given resurrected bodies that no longer need to battle. But until then, we fight.