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November 15, 1995

Down but Not Out (Part One)

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[T]hey have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me. PSALM 129:2
In Old Testament times, God’s people were held captive as slaves, extracted from their homeland, and forced to live in exile. They wandered in the desert. They were lied about and attacked on all fronts.
Later, the early Christians were persecuted in unspeakable ways—scattered to the farthest reaches of the earth, beaten, imprisoned, slandered, and executed. Down through the ages, countless known and unknown martyrs have given their lives for the cause of Christ. Even today the persecuted church thrives in the midst of discrimination and calculated extermination.
But God’s grace truly is sufficient and results in a people who cling to Him out of desperation and necessity with a common tenacity that will not let go. Regardless of, or maybe in spite of, any seemingly decent characteristics that any of us ever display, we are safe because He protects us, and we are here because He saved us.
If we were honest with ourselves, we would have to acknowledge that the bumps and bruises we suffer on the job are mere surface scratches when compared to the suffering that the children of Israel, the early believers, and the later martyrs had to endure. But sometimes our trials can seem difficult indeed. Our coworkers, friends, and loved ones question our motives, mock our faith, and scheme to defeat us. Circumstances discourage us, disappoint us, and beat us down. Events spiral out of control and we’re faced with a barrage of pain and anxiety.
As we go through such struggles, we have only one viable response: We must cling to Christ with desperation and tenacity. We must remember that we might be down, but we’re not out. Our enemies may have just won the battle, but they’re not going to win the war. That’s guaranteed.

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