Am I to understand this verse to say that my Christian life is going to be one of perpetual conflict? Will I only “little by little” conquer my spiritual foes? I had always thought that when I came to Christ I was coming to the end of my struggle. After all, didn’t Jesus Himself say, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”? But here it seems that in coming to Him there is the promise of war. Yes, there is at the same time the promise of rest and the promise of war, but these two are not contradictory. You see, the rest that Jesus promises isn’t rest from the struggle – it is rest in the struggle. His gift is more than just a ceasefire in life’s conflict. His gift to you is the power to fight.
Did you know that the first evidence of your new life in Christ is actually an inner sense of struggle? Think about it. There is no more struggle in spiritual death than there is in physical death. It’s as calm and quiet as a graveyard. But the rest that Jesus gives comes and shakes the calm and breaks the deadly silence of that graveyard! You see, the rest of God is love and love is nothing if it isn’t active. So, your struggle is itself the victory.
Have you ever paused to ponder what Paul meant when he wrote, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors…”? What are “these things” that Paul’s talking about? He tells us – “tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword.” Wouldn’t it have made better sense for Paul to say that we are more than conquerors “over all these things”? It would if that is what he meant to say, but that was not the truth that he was led by the Spirit to write. Paul wasn’t thinking about how we can get rid of tribulation or distress or persecution. He was thinking about how tribulation and distress and persecution can strengthen us. Paul’s heart didn’t leap because he thought that he was going to be freed from the fight, but rather how the struggle would strengthen his soul. That’s why he wasn’t afraid to say, “In all these things we are more than conquerors…”
A greater man than Paul said, “Blessed are they who are persecuted…” Why did Jesus close the Beatitudes with such a statement? Because that’s the pinnacle of His preaching to those who follow Him. You see, its something to be poor in spirit, meek, merciful, peaceful and pure in heart, but to be all of these in the midst of the struggle, well, that’s holiness indeed.
God will drive out your enemies little by little, but He will not rob you of personal and spiritual growth by giving you instant victory. Your power, patience and endurance will be stretched and strengthened day by day. Every morning He will present you with a field fresh for the conquering, another victory to waiting to be won until in the calm of your conscious strength you are able to say, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”