We Have Won After All
“December 7th 1941 – a date which will live in infamy.” Those are the famous beginning words of Franklin Roosevelt’s speech to a packed Congress the day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor taking nearly 2,500 American lives in the span of just a few hours. Pearl Harbor was an unprovoked attack by a very brutal and merciless enemy. It was devastating for many Americans as it launched us into a World War which most citizens at the time did not want any part in. Instead, global war had come to us.
Photo: A surprise aerial attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on Oahu Island, Hawaii, by the Japanese that precipitated the entry of the United States into World War II
We as Americans have such infamous dates etched into our collective memory. They are dates which changed our nation forever. All who lived to see them would likewise have their worldviews transformed as the nation changed around them. April 12, 1861 as canon fire was unloaded on Fort Sumter, the Black Tuesday of October 29, 1929 as the stock market crashed sinking us into a decade long Great Depression, the terrors September 11, 2001 as passenger jets were transformed into guided missiles bringing down symbols of American freedom and prosperity - these dates of infamy have all likewise been imprinted on our soul as a nation. Often times these infamous dates have hardened our resolve and brought us together as a people but all such dates also held great struggle ahead for those who lived through them.
January 6, 2021 may be such a turning point in our history. Certainly, the life lost was not as devastating as Pearl Harbor or 9/11 but symbolically it struck at the heart of who we are as a nation as rioters stormed the Capitol building some even bearing the symbols of those who have sought to divide and destroy us in the past. Something the Confederacy never accomplished in the Civil War – marching a Confederate Flag through the United States Capitol – was perpetrated by rioters on January 6, 2021. This date is made even more significant by the fact that it serves as an infamous capstone on an already infamous year that has brought great tragedy, violence, and division in our nation.
Photo: A man photographed outside the Senate chamber holding a Confederate flag in front of a portrait of Charles Sumner, a leading abolitionist senator from Massachusetts during the Civil War.
Time will tell what changes January 6, 2021 will bring to us as a nation for good or ill. We triumphed over such dates as December 7, 1941 and 9/11. The United States even struggled through a devastating Civil War more united, more free, and stronger in the end. Yet, we know these triumphs are not guaranteed. No nation under the sun lasts forever. Perhaps, it is this fear that has crept into your consciousness this past week. You may fear knowing that the United States, a nation you love, will never be the same again. Perhaps it will become unrecognizable as the nation you love or even cease to exist altogether. Perhaps we will triumph as a nation once again. Time will tell.
This emotion certainly gripped the hearts and minds of Americans following Pearl Harbor. Uncertainty, long struggle, and great sacrifice lay ahead. Fear, anger, shock were no doubt emotions they felt just as you may have as you watched rioters storm the Capitol. Yet, a very different emotion went through the heart and mind of Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain – it was one of profound relief. Why would a man be relieved by such devastation you may ask?
You see – Great Britain had already been in the long struggle of war for over two years. They had at times stood alone against the Nazi terror that swept through Europe. Nazi Germany had overrun every Ally throughout Europe and Great Britain found itself fighting alone and in danger, not just of prolonged devastation, but of annihilation. So, on December 7th as the events of Pearl Harbor were beginning to unfold Winston Churchill had a very different thought that started to take shape in his mind.
“So,” he wrote, “we have won after all.”
Winston Churchill went to bed happy that night writing that he “slept the sleep of the saved and the thankful.” In his mind, with the United States and her powerful industrial might in the war, victory was inevitable. It was simply a matter of time. Yes, unquestionable sums of money, unfathomable casualties, and further tragedies lie ahead. All of which he never failed to prepare his fellow countrymen to endure. It would require several more years of diligence, perseverance, suffering, fighting, and death. Yet, Churchill was fully convinced that in that one instant Great Britain had gone from the brink of annihilation to salvation and eventual victory. His prophetic speech to Parliament following the fall of Dunkirk a year and a half previously had come to fruition. Great Britain had been able to carry on the fight “until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and liberation of the old.”
When infamy strikes it is a good reminder that sin, death, and evil are great and powerful enemies! We see it manifested in dates of infamy throughout history but it also manifests itself in our daily lives. It is an enemy that lies both within and without. The whole creation groans (Romans 8:22) and we ourselves groan with the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26) as the struggle marches on. How do we face such enemy? How do we muster the courage to face such a foe when fear, doubts, and uncertainty capture our every thought? Though the analogy is not perfect, Winston Churchill’s response to Pearl Harbor can give us insight into the war that lies before us.
Churchill was famous for defiantly flashing a “V for Victory” sign with his fingers. His assurance of victory must be ours. Victory is certain – far more certain than it ever was for the Allies in WWII. Sin, death, and evil have already been defeated in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection! We can rest as those who are saved and thankful knowing that in Christ “we have won after all.”
Photo: Winston Churchill flashing the "V for Victory" symbol.
Many years of diligence, perseverance, suffering, and hard fighting are still to come, but we will enter victoriously into the glory of Jesus’ eternal kingdom. In Christ victory is inevitable! In the words of Martin Luther's famous hymn A Mighty Fortress is Our God:
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing; Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God's own choosing; You ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is he; the Lord of Hosts, His Name, from age to age the same, and He must win the battle.
This is the truth we must preach to ourselves when we face the terrors of infamy or even the horror of our own sin. Christ has and will overcome. We must put our faith in him. He transformed the devastation of the cross into the salvation of the world. He works all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). We need not fear our enemy. If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32) ALL THINGS that pertain to life and godliness! (2 Peter 2:3-4) His divine power at work through his precious and very great promises gives us peace as those who are saved and thankful. Nothing in all the universe is more certain.
This is good news! This is the type of news that transforms everything we think, say, and do because it ensures that life will never be the same. We can now face the enemy with courage and the strength of certain victory. We lament evil, but we need not fear it. We can endure suffering knowing that God will use it to draw us to Christ and transform us more into the image of his Son. We have peace with God come what may. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Jesus Christ is victorious! In Christ we can confidently say, “So, we have won after all.”
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. - 1 Peter 1:3–9