“What can we do? This is what we have. And, with what we have, WE WILL WIN!”
I first heard this string of phrases while visiting Israel a few years ago. During our 10 day tour of the Holy Land, our guide, Eliov repeatedly used this phrase whenever he had to inform us that our plans were changing because we had met some unforeseen obstacle. Sometimes, our itinerary was altered by weather, traffic, and limited time.
A group of tourists like ours who had paid a lot of money to see promised points of interest could easily be tempted to grumble and complain about unfulfilled dreams to see what we came to see. Yet, I was amazed at how Eliov’s positivity always seems to change the morale of our group.
After hearing him repeat the statement a few times, I realized this was not only an announcement for disappointed tourists, but a worldview for the Israeli military. I asked him the origins of the phrase. He told him that he learned the phrase while serving in the IDF (Israel Defense Force). The history of Israel reveals that the tiny nation has almost always been the underdog in any national conflict. They have often faced overwhelming odds of survival because of limited resources and overwhelming opposition. Apparently, if you are going to survive in Israel, you better be able to frame reality with a question – “What can we do?”; take inventory of your resources – “This is what we have”; and crush any temptation to pout or quit with a confident declaration of victory – “With what we have, we will win!”
Now, I often find myself repeating Eliov’s mantra when I am faced with opposition and limited resources in my ministry. If you are like me, your reach always exceeds your grasp. Your vision, goals, and plans are bigger than your time, money, and team can accomplish. You wake up every morning to face unexpected challenges to your strategic plan, ninety-day goals, and daily schedule. I am easily tempted to grumble, complain, and slip into despair and defeat.
But almost unconsciously, I hear Eliov’s voice echo in my mind. “What can we do? This is what we have. And with what we have, we will win!”
It is the worldview of the apostle Paul recorded in 2 Corinthians 4:8–10 “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”
So, what obstacles met you this morning when you woke up? Are you discouraged by unfulfilled visions, unsatisfied longings, underfunded ambitions, unrecognized accomplishments, unappreciated sacrifices? Ask the question, “What CAN we do?” We can’t do everything. That doesn’t mean we can’t do something. Instead of being paralyzed by the limitations, examine the possibilities.
What DO you have? As a pastor or ministry leader, you probably have more resources than ninety percent of the pastors who have ever lived. You have more knowledge, money, communication devices, transportation, freedom, etc. than Christians in the first century or third world could ever have hoped to have. How are you leveraging what you have to make disciples while you wait for God to supply what you don’t yet have?
And, what is your worldview? Is your perspective, “God has already supplied everything I need to do everything he expects of me today…and with what I have, I will win.” Paul reflects this worldview in 2 Corinthians 2:14. “Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.”
Christ has already won the victory on our behalf. Until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord in full and final consummation, we will feel the gap between our dreams and reality. But our faith rests in the victory that Christ won over sin and the grave. We know we win in the end. But the daily grind sometimes fools us into believing we aren’t winning today. But we are!
“What can we do? This is what we have. And, with what we have, we will win!”