Posted on Monday, Oct 05, 2020 by Scott Savage
How would you finish this sentence?
“I tend to feel defeated when
I don’t know how you would finish that sentence. But I know how I would finish it. For me, I tend to feel defeated when...
- I’m tired.
- I’ve scrolled too much social media.
- I’ve watched more than one hour of news in a day.
- I’ve had more than one large coffee.
- It’s been days since I opened Scripture.
- I’ve had zero silence on a given day.
- I’m talking to people about my problems rather than to God.
- I’m comparing my challenges to someone else’s vacation.
When we feel defeated, we become especially vulnerable to spiritual attacks from our enemy, Satan. We believe our enemy’s lies. We embrace sinful practices. We chose short-term pleasure with long-term consequences. We numb the very feelings and places where we need God the most.
Defeat can be a feeling that directly connects to a disappointing or discouraging event. Defeat can also be a story we tell ourselves in the face of a challenging situation. Feeling defeat doesn’t always mean we’ve actually been defeated.
Consider the story of the people of Israel after the death of Moses.
Entering the Promised Land, the people of Israel miraculously crossed the Jordan River. This must have reminded them of the stories they heard from their parents about the crossing of the Red Sea. But they’d not seen God move in a battle since Moses was alive. Their next battle was going to be their hardest yet. The first city they would face in the Promised Land was Jericho, which had a reputation for great strength.
Here was God’s counsel for military strength, recounted in Joshua 6:1-5.
“Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days.Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day, you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.”
God’s strategy was: march, rest, march, rest, march, rest, march, rest, march, rest, march, rest, march, march, march, march, march, march, and finally...
I suspect there was a lot of head-scratching, but all the Scripture says is that the people “started marching.”
Daily worship set the stage for ultimate victory. Because on the 7th day, when the people shouted, the walls fell as God promised, and the people charged straight into the town.
I wonder if we could learn from the people in Joshua 6. What if during a time when we feel defeated, scratching our heads and wondering what’s next, we saw worship pave the path to God’s victory? Could worship be a weapon for us and a tool through which God can bring victory? If so, how would that work?
We’ll look at how worship is a weapon for us and a tool for God to bring victory.
Worship Proactively Instead of Reactively
Sadly, we can fall into viewing worship as a passive activity or a way to withdraw from the battle; instead of seeing worship is our weapon. As a line in the song “Surrounded (Fight My Battles)” by UPPERROOM so famously states, “This is how we fight our battles.”
The evangelist Charles Finney believed in worshiping God proactively and with anticipation. Finney partnered with Daniel Nash, who traveled ahead of Finney. Nash, two weeks before Finney’s arrival, would spent 8-10 hours a day, for 10 days, in prayer and personal worship. In Rochester, New York, after Nash “prayed in the work,” Finney preached almost 100 messages over a series of months, with over 100,000 people coming to saving faith. Forty years later, in that area of New York, records showed the effects in the criminal justice system with decreased crime and violence. And it all started with worship.
In the same way, the people in Joshua 6 began worshiping before the walls fell. They embodied the kind of faith Phillip Yancey powerfully described in his book, Disappointment with God. “Faith means believing in advance what would only make sense in reverse.”
Worship Even When You’re Struggling to Believe
There are some days when we struggle to believe. Some of us are battling doubts and questions. On those days, it’s hard to worship. Worship can feel fake or forced.
I wonder if the people of Israel felt like marching each day during that week outside Jericho. I also wonder if it was the power of community that kept them all moving. It’s likely that some who were struggling walked alongside those whose faith remained strong!
When you are struggling to worship, listen to people at church singing around you. Focus on the words being sung by the worship leaders. Turn up the artist on the radio and borrow some of their belief at that moment. Keep worshiping even when you’re struggling to believe.
In the song “Never Lost” by Elevation Worship featuring Tauren Wells, powerful lyrics sum up the power of God to bring victory where we feel defeated.
No matter what walls are standing in your life, walls within your heart, walls between you and someone else, or maybe even a wall between you and God, God is able to come through again.
In a time when we feel defeated or discouraged, worship unites us and paves the way to a great victory.
Scott Savage is a pastor and a writer who believes he has the best last name ever. He leads Cornerstone Church in Prescott, Arizona. Scott is married to Dani and they are the parents of three “little savages.” He is the creator of the Free to Forgive course and you can read more of his writing at scottsavagelive.com.