When I envision a spiritual superhero, I think of biblical characters like David, who defeated Goliath, or Joshua when he took the promised land - people bulging with spiritual muscle who can sail over a mountain in one God-powered leap. But God has another class of superheroes who look and feel a lot more like you and me.
Daniel 11 focuses on a coming invasion of Israel and the desecration of the temple. The conquerors he saw were living in a time of distress. They were overrun, helpless. The only thing they could do was to refuse to give up their faith in the face of defeat. And they paid dearly for clinging to their faith: "For some days they shall stumble by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder." Daniel 11:33
God’s heroes persist in hope and faith even though that takes great effort.
Jesus addresses these overcomers when he speaks the church in Philadelphia in Revelation 3:8. "I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name." In verses 10 and 11 He encourages them to continue to persevere and He promises that they will be conquerors if they just continue to hold on.
God sees a conqueror in the ones who have little strength, but use all that they have to remain true. He is not impressed with rippling muscles. God is impressed with those who in their frailness and trials, refuse to give up. For those who persist under pressure, he holds a door open that no man can shut. He himself makes the way and escorts them in because they are His honored ones.
We are conquerors when we face relational and family difficulties, and we persist in love and faithfulness. We are overcomers when we feel overwhelmed by depression, fear, or anger, but we refuse to allow it to direct our actions. Instead we cling to God's Word and draw strength from Him. We triumph when temptation badgers us day after day, and we resist its dictates. We become God’s mighty ones when we hold on to truth despite contradictory circumstances. We stand because we will not give up. When we do these things we are God's superheroes.
Our endurance touches the heart of God. When we persist despite weakness, His heart of compassion is stirred up. He says of the church in Philadelphia, "they will know that I have loved you." Revelation 3:9 God is not put off by our weakness. He does not despise it. He knows that we are but dust, and He savors the sweet love that refuses to let go or give up. We may be weak, but love is stronger than death. Our love is proved in our weakness.
Heaven's gift: a fresh start
So what if we already failed? We quit. We gave in. Does that exclude us from the overcomers camp? No. Pass today's test. God, in His incredible mercy, whitewashes our past when we repent, and He chooses to forget it - forever. He is concerned about our success today. He wants us to end well, and that is what counts.
Once we have repented and are forgiven, God does not want us to carry the weight of failure any longer. God is always looking to get us past our mistakes, but if we are not willing to forgive ourselves, we will end up carrying them around emotionally. This defeatist mentality will keep us from developing a victorious mindset, and set us up for future failure.
God truly does edit our past.
Drawing strength from God
God has given us everything we need to make it. He knows our weakness and He offers to become our strength. Hebrews 4:15 reads, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." And He becomes our strength: "For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." Hebrews 2:18
Our God-resources are unlimited and we will only fail if we are not fully using them: "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16 God is the one who enables us to endure and triumph. For "no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13
It is our struggles that give us the opportunity to become superheroes. Every biblical hero had to face their own weaknesses. The Apostle Paul was no exception. He learned how to access God's strength in His struggles: "But he (God) said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9
Our internal power source
Weakness is not a flaw. It is a platform. It is the stage on which God demonstrates His power. It is His power at work in us that makes us bigger than life.
One time I asked God what I look like with the Holy Spirit in me. In my mind’s eye, he showed me a picture of me and then, as I watched, all my muscles began to bulge until they had grown so big that my sleeves began to tear from the expanding muscle.
That is the power of the Spirit, and He is living inside us! His power transforms us until we are "more than conquerors." We are God's superheroes!
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."
Elizabeth Ariel is a home schooling mom who is raising up, by God's grace, five champion warriors for His kingdom. She takes great joy in discovering God's creativity in both writing and dance. She is passionate about worship, intimacy with God, and building up believers through encouragement and servanthood. Thank you, Elizabeth!