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Snatching Victory From Defeat

"The God of Christian faith is not only creator but redeemer.

He does not allow human existence to end tragically. He sn atches victory from defeat."

Reinhold Niebuhr

Today is GOOD Friday! Why? What could be good about a man dying a cruel death on a cross? It sounds like defeat.

Our enemies (sin and death) are brutal. There seems to be no end to their pervasive cruelty. Suffering dominates. Perhaps you wonder how you could live "sub specie aeternitatis," under the viewpoint of eternity, in a world where life is not fair and many people you know are hurting.

My friend Moses, an immigrant from Sudan, had worked hard to provide for his wife and five children. Once he called me to say his apartment had burned and everything in it was destroyed. Then, while recovering from the fire, he also learned he had serious health issues, possibly jeopardizing his ability to provide for his family.

Sustained by his relationship with God, he said,

"God knows my heart and the condition of my family.

I am a new person in Christ.

My wife and children are concerned,

but whatever happens is not a surprise to God.

We lost man-made things, but not what God has given us-

faith, hope, and love. I am at peace."

Peace this strong snatches victory from defeat. Faith, hope, and love win.

Victory over all that would defeat us is accomplished by Jesus' death on a cross and resurrection to life. Jesus, as both God in flesh and representative man, was able to take upon himself that penalty our selfish choices deserve. Jesus gives forgiveness to all who believe in him.

Niebuhr comments,

"Without the cross men are beguiled by what is good in human

existence into a false optimism and by what is tragic into despair.

The message of the Son of God who dies upon the cross, of a God

who transcends history and is yet in history, who condemns and

judges sin and yet suffers with and for the sinner, this message is the

truth about life."

God's rescue action through the death of Christ on the cross offers to us extravagant goodness--a goodness that does not rest upon us earning God's favor (resulting in the notion that our good deeds must outweigh the bad), but upon God. It is only by God's

grace, demonstrated in the cross, that we are saved through faith in Christ.

Though much in the world now is not good, Niebuhr states that Christian faith is trust in "a good God, powerful and good enough finally to destroy the evil that men do and redeem them of their sins."

Persons who contemplate and act upon such redemption reflect the light of Christ even in dark times.

May God Bless You Today!

Paul W. Swets

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