If you’re looking at the recent past feeling like a loser because you just barely survived, take a moment to remember that there’s no such thing as revival without survival. In the end, suffering through seasons of survival are the greatest victories you will ever achieve. I know survival doesn’t feel glamorous. In fact, sometimes seasons of survival feel more like you’re sitting on death row waiting for your last meal. If you’re anything like me, seasons of survival force you to swallow that nasty pride and accept that others will criticize your inability to thrive. And to make it worse, social media often causes survivors to feel like the last people on earth who aren’t proudly standing on top of the world.
Asaph lamented that his feet almost slipped when he saw the the prosperity of the wicked (Psalm 73:2-3). He almost gave up, he almost fell backwards, he almost quit, but he went into the house of the Lord and remembered that temporary prosperity is a poor substitute for simply staying near God (Psalm 73:17-28). Staying near God is the key to survival in the worst of times. When you’re gut punched, and your whole world feels shaken, stay close to God. Stay in prayer. Stay in church. Stay submitted. Stay in the Word. Stay faithful.
Regardless of what life coaches, self-help gurus, and prosperity prophets teach; it’s ok to be in survival mode. The Bible is full of ordinary heroes who endured horrific hardships, but they survived their way into revival. The woman with the issue of blood had to crawl her way to revival (Mark 5:25-34). Noah spent over a year on a stinky ark surviving a world wide flood (Genesis 7:11-13, Genesis 8:14-20). Jonah survived a mess of his own making (Jonah 1:1-17). David spent eight long years surviving the murderous hatred of king Saul. Paul was shipwrecked, stoned (literally to death), beaten, imprisoned, and survived vicious attack after vicious attack. The list is almost endless, but they all had one thing in common; they simply endured without quitting or giving up. Once you quit, the possibility for revival goes to zero. That’s what the Bible means when it says, “…and having done all, to stand. Stand… (Ephesians 6:13-14)”. Sometimes just standing takes more courage than moving forward. Refusing to give up in the face of crushing defeat takes more courage than winning with ease. Paul couldn’t have known that revival was about to break out on the island of Malta while he was hanging onto broken pieces of a ship (Acts 27:44). He just held on until the Storm was over and faithed his way into unexpected revival.
There is a cycle of life that runs throughout the stories of the Bible. The same cycle plays out in our lives to today: surviving, reviving , thriving, and repeating the cycle again. We’re always in one stage of that cycle. There’s never a guarantee how long each stage of the cycle will last. Every mountain climber survived a valley. Everyone is either ascending or descending a mountain of victory. This is mildly depressing news for people thriving on mountain tops, but it’s wonderful news for people surviving valleys. Thankfully, every valley prepares us for the next valley, and every mountain gives us confidence that we can get to another mountain top.
So, here’s a little key to mentally surviving the valleys. It seems overly simplistic and trite. It might even sound like a silly platitude if you feel trapped in a dark unforgiving survival stage. But if you could somehow grab this concept and keep it close, it will pull you through terribly difficult times. And, if you stay faithful to God you will look back and find that what I am about to tell you is profoundly true. Are you ready for it? Here it is: Every valley is an opportunity for another victory. Let me say it this way: Every season of survival is another chance for fresh revival. You will be revived and you will thrive. And, then the process will be repeated until we reach our pinnacle destination; Heaven. In Heaven we will thrive forever in the eternal presence of the Lord.
Don’t ever allow anyone or anything to make you feel like a loser because you’re simply surviving. Survival is just the beginning of revival. When you’re surviving, you’re in the perfect position for God to work miracles on your behalf. Solomon wisely said, “Whatsoever your hand findeth to do; do it with all thy might… (Ecclesiastes 9:10)”. Keep doing everything within your power and strength to do. And, when you’ve reached your limit God will step in and pick up your slack. You’ll be hard pressed to find any instance in the Bible where God did something for someone that they could have done for themselves. You’ll be even harder pressed to find an instance where God did something for someone without requiring them to do something first. So, when you’re weak, barely surviving, at the end of your rope, and you literally have done everything can possibly do, and you’re standing at a Red Sea with no solutions; take heart, miraculous revival is right around the corner.