Don't Just Survive, Overcome

It's a difference in tone. A difference in the way one lives. It isn't subtle, yet many can't see the difference, especially those living with it. What am I talking about? Living as an overcomer rather than a survivor.

Far too many people today live as survivors instead of living as overcomers. What is the difference? Let's let Merriam-Webster help us understand:

Survivor – 1. to remain alive or in existence; live on; 2. to continue to function or prosper

Overcomer – 1. to get the better of; 2. OVERWHELM; 3. to gain the superiority

In a broken world, many people are affected by trauma, loss, health issues, family dysfunction; you name it. I have yet to meet a person who hasn't been through something. It takes courage, boldness, grit, and staying-power to make it through the hard stuff. However, what I am always intrigued by is what "getting through it" looks like for different people.

How would I write a simple statement about the difference between surviving and overcoming? Here goes,

The difference between surviving and overcoming is revealed in a person's attitude.
What do I mean by this?

People who survive tend to have a chip on their shoulder, a "me versus the world" attitude. Overcomers, on the other hand, live with an irresistible joy about them. They aren't stuck in the trauma. They aren't ones to completely forget what has happened, but they don't allow the brokenness of whatever it was define their current life situation. Overcomers don't hold on to grudges, they don't hide in the dark, and they don't wait for the next shoe to drop, but survivors do. And often, survivors aren't even aware they are doing this. But if you do life with a survivor or have enough conversations with a survivor, you can hear it in their language and see it in the way they live. Much like unforgiveness, the one who lives in survival mode rather than overcomer mode lives with a burden far too significant to bear.

What if Jesus would have survived the grave as opposed to overcoming the grave? Jesus said in John 16:33, "Take heart, for I have overcome the world." The Greek word for overcome is nikaō, and it means "to conquer, to carry off the victory." Jesus conquered death. If he had survived death, he wouldn't have conquered it, he would have only lived past the event, and he would have had an ending point. By conquering death, Jesus was able to do a new thing for all eternity. He gives us the ability to have victory over sin and death as well (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Survivors who simply continue living past an event or events usually never move forward. They get stuck. They continue to fear the unknown. They often hurt people because hurting people hurt people. They do this through their actions, their words, and their inability to trust and form close relationships.

Overcomers move forward. They are bold. They know they have been afforded the opportunity to conquer whatever it was that tried to take them down. They live forward-thinking and not stuck in the past. They know they were created for so much more, and they feel compelled to help those who need to overcome.

Friend, if you feel like you are stuck in survival mode and are still hurting, please take heart and plead with Jesus to fill you with a peace that surpasses all understanding. Ask Him to fill you with courage. Make it known to Him that you want to do much more than survive whatever you have been through. Let Him know you want the victory over it. You want to live life as an overcomer.

Christian recording artist Mandisa released a song a few years ago called, "Overcomer." In it, she sang the following:

“You're an overcomer

Stay in the fight 'til the final round

You're not going under
'
Cause God is holding you right now

The same man, the great I am


The one who overcame death
Is living inside of you

So just hold tight, fix your eyes

On the one who holds your life

There's nothing he can't do
He's telling you

Don't quit, don't give in


You're an overcomer”

See where she said, "Stay in the fight?" Someone must be a winner when it comes to overcoming. Someone must have the victory. Don't let what Satan meant for evil be used for anything other than good (Genesis 50:20). Satan is a loser not a winner. I'm not minimizing what you have been through or whatever choice you made, but don't give Satan another minute to ruin your life or the lives of the people around you. Fight for victory. Jesus is with you.

Erin Olson

Founder and CEO of Sandalfeet Ministries

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