Fighting the Fight

 

 

I’m fighting the fight.

I texted a girlfriend recently. “I’m fighting the fight.” I was OK, really – but tired and defeated and needed someone to know.  Fighting the fight.  It felt like the most honest four words I could string together.  I’m here, I’m fighting.  I’m not giving up, but gracious, it is a battle today.

My friend reached back out immediately to make sure I was really OK (I was, and am), but the truth is that some days are still harder than others.  And I’m sure that is true even if you don’t struggle with your mental wellness.  But here’s the deal: (spoiler) I do.  And some days, it’s a fight.

“Fight the good fight.  Finish the Race.  Keep the faith.”  I can’t count how many times I heard this growing up in church.  It’s possible we had t-shirts.  The idea is of course, to stay strong, to keep going, don’t quit. . .and overall its good advice.  Both in daily life and as it relates to our faith.  But in the shallowness of my understanding, at least for me, it was distorted.

My assumption of this verse was that it was a call to not just fight the good fight, but to emerge victorious; not just to finish the race, but to win it.  In my mind, obviously we had to be winning this battle, right?  Why else would we call it a good fight?  What exactly is a good fight, if not something we are OBVIOUSLY going to win?  And yet, so many days I don’t feel victorious.  When exactly is this winning of the good fight going to show up?

Our world is full of people fighting a good fight.  You may be one of them.

A good fight.  A day with broken hearts that we hold together, even if just for a moment.

A good fight.  A relentless night that fades with a coming sunrise and the hope of a new day.

A good fight.  A weakened body that continues to look for answers.

A good fight.  A mind awash with the lies of fear and shame, refusing to give up.

A good fight.  A mom, holding her child through a panic attack, wrestling away her own fears as she stays strong for the moment, knowing she will have to face them later on her own.

A good fight.  A parent, struggling through a divorce, showing up to work and the kids’ sports, when all they wants to do is scream, and sleep.

 

Our world is full of people fighting a good fight.  You may be one of them.

Fighting, but not feeling very victorious.

 

In the original text, Paul used the Greek word “agonizomai” – a word from which we pull our word “agonize”.  He is literally saying he has struggled, contended with an adversary. . .intensely.  And no where does he say that he won.  The passage is not about victory, its about fighting.  The struggle, the strife, the continuous battle, the not giving up.  There is a prize waiting for him, but its still waiting.  Paul doesn’t proclaim that he is wearing the crown he has earned from his victories. . .the crown is still to be awarded, on a day yet to come.

 

So, hello there – my fellow fighters, my comrade-in-arms, my battle-weary companions.  I see you.  I understand.

 

But more than that, God sees you.  He understands.  He sees you in the fight – the long and tiring and frustrating fight.  I believe the victory will come – I have to live in that hope, but regardless, God sees you.

Keep fighting.  Don’t give up, don’t walk away from the battle.

Keep fighting your good fight.

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I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – 2 Timothy 4:7-8  (NIV)

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