I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence which we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
I John 5: 13-14
Teachers have different schools of thought when it comes to students and their grades. There are teachers who tell their students “everyone starts with a zero and has to move their way up.” And there are other teachers who say “everyone starts with 100 and it’s yours to lose.” I personally prefer the second kind of teacher mentioned here, the kind of teacher that wants you to succeed and starts everyone off by telling them success is theirs to lose.
In many ways, God works in the same manner. God is rooting for us. He wants us to attain salvation. He wants us in His Kingdom. He wants us to follow after Him. He wants that so much that He was willing to die for us in order for that to happen.
There are many verses of the Bible that point out God’s role as our cheerleader and our encourager. He wants us to feel confident about following Him, about where the journey is leading us, and even about the journey to get there.
In I John 5:14, John writes “and this is the confidence which we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” If we spend our lives asking for God’s mercy and asking to inherit His Kingdom, we should have confidence that He will answer that prayer. The Bible is a book written to boost our confidence. Prayer builds us up, it is not meant to tear us down. Same thing with worship. Even when it seems like the whole world is against us, God is still rooting for us. We’ve already written about grace completing that which is lacking in us. On the day when we are so tired and down that it takes energy to move in any direction, it’s then that we need to remember the words of Romans 8:31, where Saint Paul writes “If God is for us, who is against us?” And continuing on in Romans 8:38-39, he writes “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And by extension, not having money, or fame, or possessions, or a college degree can separate us from the love of God. Neither can a divorce, a criminal record, a bad grade on a test, or getting fired from a job. Yes, all of these things have human consequences. There are definitely things that will keep us from getting a job or staying married, but there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. He is rooting for us.
Here are some other encouraging verses from the Bible:
Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the King of Assyria and all the horde that is with him; for there is one greater with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles. II Chronicles 32:7-8
In other words, there is no greater ally than the Lord.
Psalm 20:7 reads:
Some boast of chariots and some of horses; but we boast of the name of the Lord our God.
There may be people who boast about their resume, their possessions, or their pedigree. None of these things have much meaning if one cannot boast about a relationship with God. And if one has a relationship with God but is lacking in other areas, there is consolation that at the end of life, all that will have mattered is the relationship we have with God.
Another source of comfort is reading how God has called people, both in the Bible and throughout history, who were not educated, and who were not even faithful, and how He called them anyway, in their state of sinfulness and failure. Simon Peter is an example. In Luke 5, we read of how Jesus encountered Simon Peter at the fishing dock. Simon was a fisherman. Jesus came aboard Peter’s boat and asked him to put down the net to catch fish. Peter told Jesus that he and his partners had worked all night but have caught no fish. At Jesus’ word, though, they would put down the nets. When they did so, they caught so many fish that their nets were breaking.
When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; henceforth, you will be catching men.” Luke 5: 8-10
Jesus called Peter. Jesus wanted Peter, even in his state of sinfulness, as well a professional failure. Jesus wanted James and John, Peter’s partners in professional failure. Jesus didn’t care about their background. He saw their potential.
Likewise, Jesus wants us. He doesn’t care how much we’ve failed in the past. He sees our potential. He is all about our future, not our past. And this is what His grace does for us. It heals our past and inspires our future, if we just accept it. It doesn’t heal the past in order for us to have a failed future. It heals our past so that we can work toward a better future.
Lord, thank You for accepting me in my sinfulness. Thank You for giving me Your grace, even though I do not deserve it. Help me to remember in those times I feel alone, that You are rooting for me. Help me to remember in the times when I am bogged down by past failures that You care more about my future than my past. Help me to remember in those times when I feel invisible that You see me, and that You see the good in me. Help me to see the good in myself, and to use that goodness for Your glory. Amen.
God is rooting for us! God is rooting for you!


Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced multiple books, you can view here: https://amzn.to/3nVPY5M


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