There’s a saying — perhaps it’s actually a cliche, i don’t know — that a war is made of up many battles; therefore, you may lose a battle or two, but the focus is on winning the war.
i thought about that a lot while watching the U.S. Open men’s final last night, as Rafael Nadal prevailed over Novak Djokovic in four sets.
i used to watch a lot of tennis, and played even more than i watched. In recent years, however, not so much. My interest waned.
For some reason i felt compelled to tune in for the men’s final last night, despite the fact that i had ignored the earlier part of the tournament.
Watching that match spoke to me about the deeper realities of life, particularly life dealing with addictive patterns and the pursuit of new, authentic Life.
Nadal lost some games. He lost a set. But when he was in serious trouble in the third set, and it was about to slip away from him altogether, he fought his way back. Nadal’s grit and determination was intense and impressive. As i watched him fight, i was inspired with the thought that in my personal battle with sexual addiction — and in my counseling of other men — there is always now; there is always this opportunity to fight again even if you just lost a previous point, or game, or even a set.
That’s what i saw Nadal doing. At one point he was on the ropes, Djokovic was just so powerful. But Nadal fought hard each new point that was presented to him. He stayed positive.
And i think there’s something in that for us as men dealing with recovery and pursuing new life free from addiction.
There will be days when we struggle heavily with temptation. And there will be days when we give in. But losing a point, a game or even a set does not mean we have lost the match. Or the war.
This is a long and brutal journey at times. Our hope is in knowing that Jesus paid for it all on the cross and rose victorious from the grave; therefore, we too are raised. Our identity is in Him and not in whether we lost a battle with temptation on a particular day.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ has set you free from the law of sin and of death (Rom. 8:1-2).
We know who condemns — or tries to — and it is not Jesus.