Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. - Romans 8:37
I was flipping through an old notebook this morning trying to recall where my mind had been at a different time in life, when I came across this verse.
All these things.
Paul has just spoken of trials, tribulation, distress, disease, famine, persecution, peril, death — these things that are not welcome, but pound down the doors to our lives anyway, then overstay for far too long, and in some cases, never leave us.
Yet... we are more than conquerors.
Paul declared it. And here I had underlined it, months ago. Probably at a time when I felt stronger. But lately, it has felt like life has been conquering me, not the other way around. We conquer something when we overcome it by force, by strength. Today, I do not feel like a conqueror because I do not feel strong.
The verse led me to think about strength, and about strength of faith. What does it mean to be a strong Christian? This problematic phrase gets thrown around sometimes. It’s used to define people. To qualify people. To rank people, even. It's found a place in my vocabulary, and I have no doubt used it to speak carelessly about others — my brothers and sisters — in the past.
He is a strong Christian.
She is a strong Christian.
Oh, he is not a strong Christian.
Well, she is not a strong Christian.
Am I a strong Christian? Because sometimes on days when I am not conquering life with my own supposed strength, I do not feel like one. I am not okay, all these things are not okay… and shouldn’t I be able to find the strength to make it all okay?
Through Him who loved us.
This last part of Paul’s message is key, yet so easy for me to miss. We are conquerors through Him who loved us. There is no need to compare our faith to that of others, or even to the past versions of ourselves that lived better days. There is no need to qualify the strength of our faith, or the current condition it is in. I do not need to become better, before things can get better through Him. We don’t conquer our circumstances because we ourselves are capable or consistent — we conquer our circumstances through Him who is constant in His love for us. Us! That us, means me, you, everyone…
Everyone falling short. Everyone being loved.
We will be inconsistent. Christ will be constant.
So, again: Am I a strong Christian? I am a weak Christian (and always will be) who is undeservedly and steadfastly loved by a strong Christ (and always will be).
We cry out, how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed. The tears hit the floor. We inhale faith. We exhale fear.
The very moment we respond to Him, we find the strength we need. I soften towards surrender, and I recognize the grace that meets me. He gently knocks on the door of my life, He joins me in my broken circumstances, and He does not give up on me (on you, on us).