But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.
The saying is, “It’s not over ‘til it’s over.” It’s a phrase Christians may want to keep in mind.
On any given day, the picture of the Christian and the entire Holy Christian Church might look quite bleak. We hear the number of Christians in the world is a shrinking minority. The credibility of some Christian leaders has taken a hit. Sometimes the headlines about a specific group of Christians make us shudder.
We are struck by the apparent success of religious groups that reject the living God and worship something of their own making. A follower of Islam recently belittled Christian churches for shamelessly advertising to attract people to their place of worship. “They join businesses in competing for customers who will bring in money.”
Islamic mosques don’t advertise. They don’t compete with one another. Yet, worshipers seem to flock in.
“Christian churches with their worship of a Jewish god cannot compare to those who kneel before Allah,” they assert.
The professed atheist raises a similar charge against Christians. “Why do you deny science?” we are asked. “Science has proven there is no need for a divine being. Nature has evolved to the high level we see today without any outside help. Morality is whatever becomes acceptable or unacceptable to the influential group the person is part of.”
The scoreboard appears to show: “Christians-1; non-Christians-99.”
It appears to be a blowout.
But on the battleground of life, “It’s not over ‘til it’s over!”
The people of God have appeared to be on the losing side of life since the beginning. Their story is one of tragedy, from the murder of faithful Abel to heart-sick Abraham, to executed Jesus, to the Christian who is losing the battle for his life today.
“Losers!” the world says.
“Winners!” decrees the one who holds life and death in his hands.
About Abel? “By faith he was commended as a righteous man….” “And by faith he still speaks even though he is dead” (Hebrews 11:4).
About Abraham? “From this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore” (Hebrews 11:12).
About Jesus? The angel reported, “He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him” (Mark 16:6).
And what about the Christian taking his last breath today? The words of Jesus to the thief on the cross will be repeated. “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
The Holy Spirit says of those who are destitute, persecuted, and mistreated because of their faith in the Lord God, “The world was not worthy of them” (Hebrews 11:38).
When it is all over, the King will say to those who serve him, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Matthew 26:34).
So, how will it go for us? What will we say when the darkness of failure engulfs us? When an unbelieving world mocks us?
The prophet Micah has taught us the words. “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.”
To our spiritual adversaries, we say, “It’s not over ‘til it’s over. And, when it’s over, you will envy me.”
“So, don’t gloat.”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, sometimes the picture we see on earth is one of weakness and failure on the part of your church and its people. Remind us that not everything is as it seems. Open our eyes of faith to see your power and glory at work in us and around us. In days of darkness, O Lord, you are our light. Amen.
Points to ponder:
- What is an example of society determining what is right and wrong?
- Why do we find it difficult to pray for those who treat us unfairly?
- If we become irritated by their opinion of us, are we in danger of gloating over those who will meet an unpleasant end?
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.