Then & Now - Week of October 26

You’re Not a Victim
Genesis 50:20

Everyone has a story. I have a story. You have a story. And chances are, there are large dark spots in your story, like there are in mine, places where someone we loved disappointed us, even took advantage of us. I’ve been fortune to have grown up in a loving, wonderful household. I was blessed with two parents who loved the Lord and raised with me with love and grace.

But most of the young people I encounter don’t share this good fortune. The canvas of their childhood is marred with ugly spots. An abusive, alcoholic father. A neglectful mother. Verbal abuse. Sexual abuse. Poor teachers, angry coaches, cruel siblings.

This is the baggage, the junk of life in a fallen world. But while your past is part of your story and you’d do well to work through it, it doesn’t have to be the main story. You don’t have to be defined by what happened to you. You don’t have to be a victim.

We have a tendency to want to use the abuses of our past as an excuse for our own failings. And in some ways, the patterns we learned in childhood, the empty places in our souls—these are catalysts for negative behavior.

And yet we don’t have to be defined by what happened to us. God through Christ offers us to the opportunity to rewrite the script. We can be renewed. We can embrace His plan. We can have confidence that we don’t have to stay the way we are simply because that’s the way we are. We can change and grow.

But sadly, here is what I find with many Christians. They grow comfortable in their misery. Rather than face the reality of their own sin and tap into the beautiful cleansing grace of God, they like to swim in the pool of their past, using their circumstances as a weapon against the God who wants to restore them to their original purpose.

In some ways, we’re all victims. We live in a fallen world and so life has handed us many unfortunate things. Some have suffered more than others. But I’m finding that spiritual success is not tied to how much you have suffered, but how you handle it. Do you allow God to use the trial to chisel away at the unredeemed parts of your heart or do you hang onto bitterness so you can have a ready excuse for your sin?

I know some who have suffered extraordinarily and yet they have gone farther in life than they should have. One of my best friends never knew his father, yet he became a terrific father and is now a grandfather. He’s a great leader in our church. He could have played the victim, but didn’t.

You’ll have all kinds of opportunities to blame others for the life you live. And you can do that if you want. But if you really want to experience God’s great joy, you’d release your bitterness to the Lord and allow Him to use your trials for your good and His glory.

Daniel Darling is an author, pastor, and public speaker. His latest book is Crash Course, Forming a Faith Foundation for Life. Visit him on Facebook by clicking here, follow on him on Twitter at, or check out his website:

Originally published October 26, 2020.