“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Christ who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
Christian triumphalism is alive and well. It declares that we have power to conquer the forces of evil and authority to banish Satan. We have not because we ask not. Name it and claim it. Take charge of your circumstances. Live in victory. God wants the best for you and has a glorious plan for your life.
Such spiritual swagger looks to texts like Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”) and Paul’s words in Romans 8:37 (“In all these things we are super-conquerors through Christ who loved us”).
However, before we don the super-hero cape, perhaps we should understand the Apostle Paul’s intentions.
Both passages address hardship and suffering. But the victory Paul has in mind is not a change of circumstances but the change of heart and mind. Paul never suggests that we become immune to the realities of a broken world. However, because of faith, we discover contentment, joy, and hope in the midst of everything. These qualities do not arise from our circumstances, but despite our circumstances.
Suffering comes as a double-edged sword. It afflicts us first with pain and loss. Then it swipes a second time with fear and anxiety. The first cut we cannot avoid; the second we can.
In Philippians 4, Paul declares twice (in verses 11 and 12) that he has learned the secret of contentment; that he can live with plenty as well as in poverty. It is not fatalism on his part, but faith. He is not simply resigned to life’s vicissitudes. Rather, he rises above setbacks by changing the only thing he can control; his mind.
In Romans 8, the same holds true.
Paul did not seek safety, prosperity, comfort, or affluence. He already held the most precious of gifts; an unshakable confidence in God’s love.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The most compelling testimony is not the life of ease but the life of joy and contentment.
Today, whatever you face, whatever threatens you or frightens you, may you too find peace — not in the promise of immediate change but in the certainty of God’s unfailing, unstoppable, prevailing, and immeasurable love.