Victim or Victor?
By Marlene Houk
Each year, the Christmas story told so magnificently in the Bible in Luke chapters one and two offers lavish treasures. Perhaps angels anticipate our unwrapping rich spiritual truths as we mine for gold and gems in the verses. Breath-taking brilliant jewels of truth shine into the New Year—offering rich moorings with which to anchor my life. This year, the majestic jewel of a victor, in contrast to the black obsidian of the victim, caught my attention.
Often, we think of Mary as a victim of her circumstances: unwed, exiled, and uneducated. She coped with the potential attack by entrenched religious zealots and bore the stigma of pregnancy without the benefit of marriage. The iron band of Roman government utterly dominated her people, the Israelites. We sing songs that ask questions about how much she knew. But our perspectives may change when we consider another viewpoint.
Recently, I listened to a sermon by a well-educated and experienced preacher who shared a thought-provoking approach to the reason Mary visited Elizabeth in Luke 1. He startled me with two questions in his sermon, and I unwrapped a powerful gem of truth. He informed us that after Gabriel’s announcement to Mary of Jesus’ birth, she traveled about eighty miles, (a 3-4 day journey) to visit her cousin Elizabeth. She was going south to the hill country of Judea but Bethlehem was in that area. The preacher posed this question: was she researching what the same journey would be like at full-term, nine months from then? He also asked: did Joseph use the decree by Caesar Augustus to fulfill prophecy rather than being forced to Bethlehem for taxation? If so, that makes Joseph and Mary savvy and strategic partners with the Lord in changing history and fulfilling God’s plan for them. They were far from victims of their circumstances; they were victors!
And therein lies the message. When we think we’re the victim, we’re actually the victor!
At times, thinking of ourselves as victors is difficult. Sometimes, frustration blurs our goals. And our challenge shifts from meeting goals to overcoming obstacles. This reminds me of the old saying. “It’s hard to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp when you’re up to your ears in alligators.” Often, life turns worse. Being fired by a misogynist, betrayed by a husband, or blindsided by death may shackle us with a victim mentality. But, as Christians, God tucks jewels of hope within His stories like Mary’s to help us transform our thinking from victim to victor.
Our weakness in forgetting our victor status may be the reason God so often reminds us in His Word about our true status as His children. Romans 8:37 reminds us that “we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” And Acts 1:8 shines light into our despondent hearts with the words, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:” One of my favorites is 1 John 5:4, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” The Bible reveals treasures that empower us to turn from victim to victor.
As 2022 shines brightly upon our horizons, may we remind ourselves that we are victors and not victims. May we focus on the Lord, setting our face, like Mary, stalwartly toward eternity, knowing that we are victorious in Christ!
Mary was able to trust God in big ways. By setting her face like a flint towards the Lord, Takeaways:
- When we focus on the Word of God, as Mary did, we can fulfill His plan for us in the New Year.
- We are the Victors, not the Victims.
- “Go ahead, underestimate Me, this’ll be fun.” I’ve learned, in 58 years of walking with Christ, that 9 times out of 10 I’ve underestimated the Lord of Hosts.
Like the timelessness of pearls and diamonds, one facet of Mary’s story remains—her status as the victor rather than the victim. Mary seemed to have a focus that recognized her precarious position as an unwed mother but remembered the angel Gabriel’s, words. She kept them at the forefront of her mind and focused on her end goal—obeying God tenaciously.
Marlene is an author and teacher of Bible studies. She may be reached at Bible167@gmail.com
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