“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

Oswald Chambers makes a jarring assertion: “Life without war is impossible.” Impossible? Didn’t the angels on that first Christmas promise peace to those of goodwill? Don’t we constantly and desperately try to avoid war of any sort? What is Chambers talking about? “The basis of physical, mental, moral, and spiritual life is antagonism,” he writes. “This is an open fact of life. Health is the balance between physical life and external nature, and it is maintained only by the sufficient vitality on the inside against things on the outside.” How starkly realistic! Countless harmful organisms constantly invade our bodies, and only the vitality of our immune system keeps us healthy.

Mentally and spiritually it’s the same. In the early days of the computer, the acronym GIGO—Garbage In, Garbage Out—became popular. In other words, if you put “garbage” or nonsense into a computer, that’s what you will get back. In the same way, if you put garbage into your mind or soul, that’s what you’ll get back. Just as our bodies are at constant war with spiritual forces that seek to debilitate and destroy us, we must have spiritual vitality to survive and thrive.

Chambers sounds like a rugged, no-holds-barred coach when he says, “I have to learn to score off the things that come against me, and in that way produce the balance of holiness; then it becomes a delight to meet the opposition.” As in sports, we can score off the spiritual attacks against us. We gain a lift from the forces that look as if they will overwhelm us. Chambers writes, “The surf that distresses the ordinary swimmer produces in the surfer the super-joy of going clean through it. Tribulation, distress, and persecution produce in us the super-joy; they are not things to fight.” We’re promised that God, the source of our vitality, can make us more than conquerors.

Adapted from The One Year Book of Encouragement