I Have Overcome
1 John 5:4-5 (ESV)
4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Back in the early 2000s, when I was a sophomore in high school, I spoke to a counselor for the first time about my family struggles. My parents were fighting night and day. My father had cheated on my mother. These were terrible times. I was panicked and nervous all the time that I couldn't focus in school. Even though it was the relationship of my parents that had been tainted and broken, I felt so abandoned and alone. I hated everyone.
During that time, I decided to speak to my counselor. Not because I thought of doing something crazy but because I realized that I had to do something about my academics in case something worse might happen between my parents. I thought that the best thing for me to do at the time was to stay focused in school so that I could be a good substitute parent and an example for my younger brother and sister. I knew that I was the only one they had who could encourage and comfort them.
Instead of encouraging me, the counselor lowered my self-esteem and told me to dream small, and told me that the plans I had outlined for my future was not possible, because I was already failing my classes and had no parental support. She advised that the best option for me would be to contact a reliable family member to help take care of my siblings and for me. Also, she asked me to consider technical schools so that I could get a decent-paying job right out of high school. I was so discouraged. I remember walking out of that office asking myself, “Am I really nothing? Are my parents’ mistakes and problems my fault? Is it because I lack something?”
That day, when I went home, I remember seeing my siblings looking at me with expectation to relieve them of anxieties from school and at home, being with a heartbroken mother. I couldn’t think of anything else but to encourage them to pray. I told them about Moses, and how he was thrown into the river as a baby not because his parents hated him but because he was so loved and they knew that God would take care of him, away from their terrible situation. I told them that even though we could not physically see God and things might get scary, He is still watching over us and that mom is still praying for us asking Him to take care of us when she can’t. I did not entirely believe that God was real during that time but I couldn’t keep my little brother and sister live in an environment without promise and hope, which is why I had told them what my grandmother used to tell me.
Meanwhile, I decided that if there wasn’t anyone who could help me I will find a way to help myself and show my counselor and everyone else who doubted me what I was capable of. So I started doing my homework and asking teachers for extra help. My grades started to rise. Eventually, by the time I reached the second semester of junior year, I was a 4.0 student. Although I had boost-up my grades, I was not able to take my SAT exam. The morning I had the test, my father started a huge fight at home. I stayed home and missed the test because I couldn’t just leave my siblings there. I went to consult the counselor again, who told me that I would go back to my old habits and that without a SAT score, no university would accept my application. She advised that if I really wanted to go to school, I should just apply to a community college and study there. I was so upset, I went home crying.
I’m not sure what got into me at the time but I began to pray. I locked myself in my walk-in closet, tore up all my study notebooks and just started to pray. I asked God to reveal Himself to me if He was real.
I asked Him if He was alive to show me that He wanted me to have a good life. I was so fired up to pray. I decided whether God was real or fake, I would try praying every day at 7 P.M. at least for my own sanity. I prayed every day until I finished all my college applications. I chose universities I wanted to attend regardless of my counselor’s advice. On the final submission day, I held my application fee in my hand and said, “God, if you have been listening to my prayer, please help me. Help me get into a school and help me make this a testimony to share to those who questioned me because I believe that I’m not worthless in your eyes. I could use this money for my siblings but I’m sending it to this school so help me make it not go to waste.”
A few weeks later, I received a letter from the University of Maryland College Park. Because I did not submit a SAT score, they offered me a deal of taking an intensive summer program right after graduating high school. I eventually passed the program and even ended up being one of the top students at the university for the next five years. Despite all this, it was hard for me to give thanks and glory to God in the beginning.
When I became a sophomore in college, I started serving as a youth group leader at the church I was attending. I was praying alone one night because it had been so difficult for me to take that responsibility. I didn’t know why I took on the role. I just agreed to help because I felt bad for the head pastor who was going through a liver illness at the time. I was so desperate for help. As I prayed, the Holy Spirit touched me and revealed Himself to me. I saw the cross that Jesus was crucified on, and I got so scared that I started praying harder and louder. But the vision became clearer: I felt the moist humid dirt under my knee, and the soft humid breeze passed over my face and hair. God also showed me an entire panorama of my life since the time of my birth to that very moment and confirmed that He had been there every single time. He had been cupping every tear and answering every question.
I have never questioned His existence after that encounter nor have I ever questioned the words in the Bible. He is real, and I was saved through the blood of Jesus. My family was rescued through the blood of Jesus. I can push through more obstacles and mountains in my life because my life is in His hands, not mine.
My parents’ problems were caused not because of my wrongdoing. It was just an obstacle that my family had to overcome to be closer to Christ. What we went through might have been scary and stressful at the time but compared to what Jesus suffered for us, it was nothing. I know that if I hadn’t gone through all that happened, I probably wouldn’t be accepting of God’s existence and wouldn’t feel the everlasting joy of salvation.
For Your Reflection
What is here in this world will come and go. We will encounter both good and bad situations, and people will walk in and out of our lives. But what’s constant is the truth of the golden future that God holds for us. It is permanent and will never change, nor disappoint us. Everything has been overcome by the blood of Jesus, and there is nothing more I can ask for. Today, I fight through my anxieties, sinful heart and thoughts by reminding myself that every day is a new day that God has made for me. What a privilege it is to wake up each morning and be alive! What a privilege it is to call myself His child. And I look forward to how He will use me to reveal Himself to my fellow brothers and sisters whom He allowed me to serve! I pray for you brothers and sisters. I pray that God will lift your spirits daily as he has done for me. May each day you are awake be a day He reveals what the blood of Jesus has overcome for you.