So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. (Acts 19:20)
What are your expectations? Mine are that I would triumph because God is with me. But the story of Joshua on the edge of the promised land chastens me (see Joshua 2). Remember that? When Joshua was about to enter Canaan, he saw a man, a warrior, standing with a sword. "Are you for us or against us?" And the angel of the Lord said, "No. But I am the commander of the Lord's army." Joshua took off his shoes because he was standing on holy ground.
The reason that chastens me is because I want to triumph personally more than I want the word of the Lord to triumph. I don't mean to the exclusion of the triumph of God's word. What I mean is that I naturally put my own well-being and my own success ahead of the success of the word of the Lord. It's another way of saying I don't put the Lord and his mission first.
I confess this so that you can see that this is something that all of us struggle with. We all want to put ourselves first, our own successes first. We all want victory for ourselves. But God calls on us to love him first, to love his mission in the world above all else. And our model for how to do this is the one who did not look to his own victory but died having entrusted his well-being to his heavenly Father.
That means we have to pursue the kingdom of God trusting that he will safeguard our souls, shepherding them to their joyous and triumphant end. We must not pursue our own triumph, but the triumph of the word, of the kingdom. When we start praying for that, we can begin to take joy in the triumph of the word. May God grant us repentance in this.
Who are you praying for today?