Tuesday, February 14, 2017

3 Stories of Captivity and Pursuing Victory in Christ

Meet Kelsey

Kelsey stopped asking a long time ago. She knew if she told him she’d like to go to church, her husband would say something unkind like, “Only losers need Jesus.”  She once needed Jesus. Did that make her a loser? Sometimes she felt like she still needed Him, but over the years had learned to suppress such thoughts and feelings. It was just easier that way.

She discovered that if she stayed busy enough, her yearnings seemed to quiet themselves. Kelsey was on the verge of over-committing herself with fundraising, children’s sports, and school activities. She felt as if she could barely breathe through the weightiness of her schedule. In fact, she was supposed to attend a purse party with a friend the night before, but something else came up and she forgot to call and cancel. She wished she could muster enough emotion to feel bad about letting her friend down, but time was moving too fast.

Kelsey knew she had a good life, but this sure isn’t what she dreamed of.

and Terri

Terri gave her heart to Jesus when she was 10 years old. All through middle and high school, she followed hard after Him. She felt a deep connection to the Lord through worship and daily quiet time and sensed a call to full-time ministry. Then, in her first year of college, she discovered her mother’s string of extramarital affairs and Terri turned to the sex, drug, and alcohol scene to dull the pain. She wondered, “Where was God? Why wasn’t He there for my mom?” and her heart began to harden toward Him.

Now in her married life, she and her mom had worked out a few things and she was attending church with her husband and kids. Away from church, though, it wasn’t unusual for her to have inappropriate thoughts about men. They had no idea, of course, so she kept her thoughts on simmer until she could log into those Internet sites privately.  

and Beth 

Beth was an early bloomer. She grew up in a strong Christian home but was one of those girls who had her first baby while still in high school. She married her high school sweetheart and they were now parenting four additional children and serving the Lord at their local church. Beth most loved missionaries and often reached out to those overseas to encourage and offer prayer support via email.

When their busy days quieted and she crawled into bed each night, Beth wondered, “Is this all there is?” Their family routine felt like drudgery and Beth often felt an emptiness she couldn’t describe. She did her best to decorate their home to designer magazine standards. She kept herself and her kids well-groomed and fashionably dressed, but her husband only complained about the amount of money she spent.

Even church was becoming unfulfilling. She used to believe she could feel the presence of the Lord there, but now she wasn’t so sure. Yet when she watched others in their church experience emotional worship, she felt she was missing out on something more. 

What do they have in common? 

Kelsey, Terri, and Beth all have something in common. They feel a deep and seemingly unexplainable sense of longing. They dream of an abundant life - not necessarily in material things, but an abundance that will satisfy what feels like a hole in their hearts. They long for something to placate their constant sense of discontentment. They’ve grown weary of settling for the mundane, yet can’t put their fingers on what seems to be missing.

What they may fail to recognize is that they are thirsty for something that only Jesus can satisfy. They are hungry for the victory of discovering deep soul satisfaction through the active involvement of God in their lives.

The freedom they once experienced in the Spirit is buried by dashed hopes and unmet expectations. God’s care and involvement seem absent. Victory feels elusive as if God intends it for everyone but them.

These are common heartaches. Many of us feel them personally or can closely identify with those who feel stuck in captivity.

Through nearly two decades of teaching, mentoring, coaching, and ministering to women, I’ve met some who couldn’t see triumph in their lives because they feel trapped by disappointments or held captive by past heartache. One woman once told me that she could never share her story with others because there was no good in it. But there’s good in every story. And we don’t have to allow our past to keep us from finding that good.

Finding Victory

Victory comes when we recognize that God is actively moving in every situation, including our own.  Knowing that His protection of His children is unwavering and constant helps us know and understand that His love is real and personal. We are victorious when we recognize and embrace the best that God has for us.

By learning to take negative thoughts captive, practice gratitude, expend effort and time needed to build a meaningful relationship with God, we can embrace His victory. We can all learn to recognize that through and even because of our trials and disappointments, we can find triumph.

To embrace victory, we must cling tight to the truths of Scripture and let the Word of God fill our hearts and minds. As disciplines develop, when we regularly study the Bible and begin to delight ourselves in the Lord, He molds our desires and reshapes our longings, fashioning them to match His will for us.

As we continue this blog series on victory together, I encourage you to take another look at the five faith building practices we covered in our Back 2 Basics series last month. If you, like Terri, Beth, and Kelsey, are longing for something that will fill the emptiness you feel inside, consider asking Jesus Christ to be your source of satisfaction. Re-visit the disciplines of prayer, time in God’s Word, worship, Scripture memorization, and even fasting.  Choose one and dive in. Give it your full attention then after a few weeks, evaluate the thirst you now feel and whether God is in the process of quenching that thirst.  

Jesus can and will meet you in your emptiness and fill you to overflowing with a sense of fulfillment and meaning. The kicker is that we have to invite Him into our lives and allow Him to lead us. Jesus proclaimed in John 7:37 “If anyone is thirsty he should come to Me and drink!”  Let’s take Him at His word and walk in His victory!

* Kelsey, Terri, and Beth are figments of my imagination. Any resemblance to actual people is neither intended nor implied. 

Your Turn

Share a time when you felt "stuck", discontent, or as if there were a proverbial hole in your heart. Have you experienced victory in Christ? How did you overcome?

If you're still feeling "stuck," I would love to pray for you. Please tell me how I can best do that. 

Be Strengthened Today, By His Word,
Psalm 119:28


We feel honored to talk with you. Please share your comments below or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.  For more information, visit our website: www.StrengthenedByTheWord.com

Cathy McIntosh is the author of Victorious: Finding Triumph When Hope Seems Lost. When you can’t see God’s activity in your situation, you might begin to feel hopeless. You’re tempted to doubt His care and involvement in your life because He feels so . . . absent. Victory feels elusive as if God intends it for everyone but you.

But God is never absent. He is as involved in your life today as He was when He protected Queen Esther and the entire Jewish nation from annihilation, and He will bring victory.


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