Is It Really a Battle?

Is It Really a Battle?

September 09, 2012
Written by Daniel Hazard

Romans 14:8

"If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord, so that alive or dead we belong to the Lord."

Reflection by Anthony B. Robinson

Perhaps you, too, have noticed how often we speak of illness and death using the language of "battle"?

Obituaries tell us that someone "lost her battle against cancer." A man tells his friends of an illness that is possibly, even likely, terminal and says, "But, I'm going to beat this thing." Armed with the latest therapies, bolstered by new diets, and attended by an array of medical specialists as large as the faculty of a small college, we set forth to do battle against illness and death.

But is "battle" really the right metaphor and story? More to the point, is it our story as Christians?

These aren't easy questions to answer. Death, according to Scripture, is a transpersonal power that manifests itself in a variety of ways. It is a power that is to be resisted and over which Christ has prevailed.

But often the use of "battle" language and hope for - even insistence on - a medical miracle sounds less like the Christian story and more like a particularly modern or American story of individualism, one that is about personal control and winning. It is a story that makes my personal life and survival the ultimate or highest good.

But for Christians, while life is a truly wondrous gift, it is not the ultimate or the highest good. God is our highest good. God alone is ultimate. God alone is God. The promise and hope, in which we face death, is that nothing - not even death - can separate us from God's love in Jesus Christ. Believing this promise, illness may not be so much a battle we win or we lose, but a reality we face with courage, an occasion to which we rise as best as we are able, trusting that in life and in death we belong to God.


Help of the helpless, Lord, abide with me; and grant me grace to abide in You. Amen.

About the Author
Anthony B. Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul's Letters to Timothy for a New Day, and he is also the author of the just-published Book of Exodus: A God is still speaking Bible Study. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at by clicking on Weekly Reading.

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