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FIRST-PERSON: Against all odds

EULESS, Texas (BP)–Some of the most profound and beautiful pieces of literature arise from tragedy, difficulty and national crisis. One such crisis in the history of the world occurred in the 18th century in France. Of course, we are talking about the French Revolution.

Out of the context of the French Revolution, I am immediately reminded of three powerful works of literature set in this time, or shortly after, which speak to man’s inner struggle to overcome: “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens, “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo and “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexander Dumas. You probably read these in high school or college or perhaps have seen one of these works adapted for the stage.

Personally, I love the story of The Count of Monte Cristo, and recently the film industry adapted the story for the screen. The film is set in post-Napoleonic France and stars Jim Caviezel as Edmund Dantes, an honest sailor who is falsely accused of treason by his best friend. Dantes is imprisoned on the dreaded island prison of Chateau D’If for some years until he meets a fellow innocent convict, Abbe Faria (Richard Harris), who becomes Edmund’s mentor in sword fighting, finance and escape, confiding that a vast treasure awaits a discoverer on the island of Monte Cristo. Eventually, Edmund is able to get away using Faria’s tunnels and journeys to the island of Monte Cristo, where he retrieves the fortune and uses it to make himself over as the wealthy Count of Monte Cristo. Despite impossible odds and indomitable circumstances, Edmund overcomes them all.

The story inspires us to overcome, to triumph and to take courage. It inspires us toward a love that enables us to rise above hardships, imprisonment, lies, deceit and even revenge. The story is inspirational. But for all of its value, it remains fiction.

For Christians, however, the ability to overcome is not merely an inspirational or a pleasant fiction; the Bible tells us that we, in fact, possess the power to overcome all odds and become super-conquerors. In Romans 8:37, Paul tells the Roman Christians, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” “All these things” that the Romans faced were impossible odds: violent death, famine, poverty, persecution, distress, suffering, war, temporal powers, supernatural powers and physical powers. These are terrible circumstances and enormous obstacles, and I’m sure none of us pray for these kinds of conditions!

But the beauty of the Scripture is in its honesty. Paul does not soft-sell the reality of hardships in life. He doesn’t say, “Well, if you trust Jesus, then life will be a bed of roses.” He doesn’t even say, “I know it’s tough. Just tie a knot in the end of your rope, and hang on!” Rather, Paul quotes Scripture: “For your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter” (Romans 8:36). Paul honestly depicts the human condition: We all face tough times, and Christians also face difficult circumstances, perhaps more so, because of their faith in Christ. So, Paul is honest in depicting the plight of the Romans. But, despite their insurmountable odds, he triumphantly declares to the world: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

Regardless of circumstances, difficulties, spiritual warfare, hard times, pain, war or any other obstacle, Christians are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us. Paul boldly declares to the Roman Christians, and to us: Through the power of Christ’s love we have the power to overcome (and then some!).

Through the love of Christ, our families can weather any storm. Through the love of Christ, financial difficulties do not defeat us. Through the love of Jesus, we have the real power to overcome, against all odds.

What is your struggle today? Do you feel as though God has abandoned you and your family because you face difficulties? Don’t believe it! The love of Christ carries us through the storms and brings us to the other side. Embrace the love of Christ and become a super-conqueror, against all odds.
Claude Thomas is pastor of First Baptist Church in Euless, Texas. For more of his LifePoints resources, visit www.firstonthe.net.

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  • Claude Thomas