One of the most famous speeches ever given was by Winston Churchill. On October 29, 1941, Prime Minister Churchill visited Harrow School which he had attended as a youth, to speak to the students. During his talk he gave some memorable lines which have been recalled and repeated on countless occasions.
In his closing remarks, he said this: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
It was a stirring speech given at an exceedingly dark period in English history, and that of the free world. Nazi Germany of course was in the ascendency during this time, and it really did look like Europe and perhaps the entire world would soon be under the domination of Hitler. It was certainly a depressing and discouraging time, and many would have been tempted to think that victory against the Nazis was looking difficult, if not impossible.
Thus this speech of Churchill really helped to remind the English that some fights are too important to let go of, and some causes are too vital to give anything less than our entire efforts. There are many times when the going gets tough, and it looks like it is pointless to go on any further. But we always need to be reminded of doing what is right, even if it looks like the odds are against us, or that the other side seems invincible.
A good example concerns what took place just hours ago. In Melbourne, the Victorian Parliament voted through an abortion bill which decriminalises abortion and allows open slather on abortion, even late-term abortion. It had already passed in the Lower House and was this morning passed in the Upper House by a vote of 23-17. Of course things are not fully over yet: up to 70 amendments must now be debated, and a final vote taken. So things may yet change.
Nevertheless, today is a sad day for Victoria, for Australia, and for the world. Victorian politicians have covered their hands in blood by passing one of the most vile pieces of legislation yet seen in this land. It is indeed a dark day for Australia.
And since this morning, I have received a number of emails from pro-lifers indicating how devastated and discouraged they are. And rightly so. We have all worked our tails off on this bill. Indeed, many have worked tirelessly on this, putting in hundreds of hours of volunteer work, lobbying, protesting, rallying and everything possible to stop this horrendous piece of legislation.
Many have worked far harder and longer than I ever will on all this. Indeed, some have been battling this issue for three or four decades now. They are battle-wearied and battle-scarred soldiers who feel like they have just been kicked in the guts, yet again.
Thus many are angry, bitter, discouraged and exhausted. Some of their emails are very sad to read. Of course I know how they feel, and I share their frustration, despondency and grief. But I have written back to every one of these dear souls, and tried to encourage them to keep on keeping on.
Sure they may sound like glib and pointless words, but we all have a biblical responsibility to encourage one another, to provoke one another to good works, and to not grow weary in well doing.
I have had to remind these dear fellow-labourers that yes, it can be very discouraging and depressing. And yes the temptation is always there to simply throw in the towel and give the game away.
One can understand if a person feels like this, or in fact does this. Some of these troopers have been fighting this hard and lonely battle for decades. It is a thankless task and it results in so much hostility, resentment, persecution and opposition, that one can forgive such a person for wanting to get out of the trenches.
And at such times, those who are believers can be tempted to think that God has let them down, or is not interested, or has abandoned them. But we must not succumb to the lies of the enemy here. These whispers of discouragement and despair come not from our Lord, but from the enemy.
God has not abandoned anyone. God is still on the throne. And God works through his people. We are his workers here on planet earth. He calls us to be co-labourers together with him.
The enemy wants to get us discouraged and to give up. He wants us to abandon all hope. But God wants us to look to him, and to keep fighting, knowing that ultimately the battle is his, and that in the end he will prevail.
We must take some solace from the lessons of history, and Scripture itself. Think of all the times William Wilberforce was defeated in Parliament as he fought a very similar battle: the battle against slavery. Time after time his side lost the vote in Parliament. But he did not despair. He did not give up. He kept fighting and in the end he prevailed.
Of course such victories come at enormous cost. Nothing worthwhile in life ever comes easy. Wilberforce faced horrendous opposition and persecution for his efforts. In fact, he was once known as the most hated man in all of England.
But he was also known as the “conscience of the nation”. Isn’t it great that he did not give up, and that he did not believe the enemy’s voice, that God had abandoned him? Isn’t it inspiring how he persevered, even though he could easily have just given up? There are millions of black people who are so thankful that he did not give up. Millions of slaves count Wilberforce as their saviour.
So please do not give up good brothers and sisters. You valiant warriors have been a stalwart and inspiration to many in this battle, and we need you to keep fighting. Every time I read one of your letters in the papers, or hear you on talk-back radio, or see you quoted in the media, I am thrilled and encouraged to keep going on. You have been a real encouragement and inspiration to me. So please don’t let me and the team down at this vital time. Now is not the time to put up the white flag of surrender, but to strengthen our resolve.
And please do not let the unborn down at this time. I know we have fought so hard, and it seems it has been all in vain. But our labour is not in vain in the Lord, as Scripture reminds us. We must simply persevere, as difficult as it is. We owe it to the unborn to never turn our backs on them.
And what if we put things on the other foot? What if the bill had been voted down? What do you think the pro-death camp would be doing? Would they be saying, “Oh, we worked so hard and so long on this. What a bummer. I am so depressed. I just quit. What is the point of going on?”
Do you think that is what they would be saying? Of course not. They would be redoubling their efforts. They would work even harder to push their agenda. If the other side can persevere, why can’t we?
So please forgive me if I appear to not understand your great despondency and grief at this time. Believe me, I understand it; I feel the same way. This has been a horrible defeat. But it is just a battle. It is not the end of the war. Those who are believers know how things will end. We have read the last chapter of the book, and we know who eventually wins.
So we must not give in. I began with the moving words of Churchill, so let me finish with a few more. Remember that he spoke these words during the darkest, most gloomy period in England’s recent history. Yet his optimism and resolve were an inspiration to millions. So let me also encourage you to never give up, to never surrender, to never succumb to the enemy’s lies.
Churchill said these things during the heat of battle. May we apply them to our battle as well.
“This is no time for ease and comfort. It is the time to dare and endure.”
“Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
“If you are going through hell, keep going.”
“It has come to us to stand alone. . . . I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.”
“May God prosper our arms in the noble adventure after our long struggle for King and Country, for dear life, and for the freedom of mankind.”
“Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”