Some battles in life are fought and instantly won; passing tests, playing games, solving a puzzle in the newspaper, or winning at a sporting event. We preoccupy ourselves with these “battles” because they give us instantaneous gratification and bring us a measure of pleasure and self assurance.
Some battles are fought for a while and won; graduating from high school or college, getting a promotion at work, achieving “retirement.” We can see the need for fighting these kinds of battles because there is a significant achievement to be won at the end and once we have achieved that level, we can move on to other things, having won the battle.
There are other battles, however, that are ongoing and we will never, in this life, completely win until we conquer them in death. These battles are constant and daily efforts with which we must struggle on a regular basis. This is a hard thing for our society to accept who are accustomed to complex crimes being solved in a one hour TV program, sporting events ending in less than two hours, and conquering the sudoku in 30 minutes. This kind of battle is only won in the continued fighting of it; it isn’t a battle that is won, never to be fought again.
It is becoming quite evident to me, that my success in weight loss is only as good as my desire to maintain that success. Months ago, I spoke with another gentleman about this and he related to me how it was a regular struggle to eat right, exercise and keep the weight off. He then said, “But it’s a good fight, so I guess I’ll keep on doing it.” Losing weight and keeping the weight off isn’t one of those battles that are won, never to be fought again. It is a constant and daily effort.
Similarly, in my police training this past fall one thing that I learned is that the law will eventually catch up to the criminal. Police activity is a constant and ongoing battle, one that never stops. It also isn’t one of those battles won, never to be fought again. It is a constant and daily effort.
We need to realize that living the Christian life is the same kind of battle. If we realize and accept this, I believe we will have a great weight lifted from our shoulders. The person who is constantly telling himself, “I’ve got to win today!” will soon find himself hopelessly burned out with trying to achieve this task. Why? Because living the Christian life is only something that is won while we continue the struggle. Paul told Timothy, “Fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Timothy 6:12) and wage the good battle (1 Timothy 1:18). It was a battle that Paul was only expecting Timothy to win by continuing to fight it.
Let us recognize that today we fight the battle and that our victory is in our faith on a daily basis (1 John 5:4) and through this, we will overcome, not in this life, but, in the next. For today, however, if I have struggled, then I have won.