We usually think victory looks like a mountaintop experience: some long-awaited occurrence finally materializes and we go nuts. Which is a valid form of celebration. But I would like to suggest a more practical application; a more usable definition for what it actually looks like on a day-to-day basis.

Victory, in the Christian life, sometimes looks like death. The things you’ll be celebrating most are usually the places you died to. The place where you should be going, “This doesn’t look good at all. This is hard and horrible and I’d rather not go through this.” Just look at Jesus: the greatest celebration of all time came through His death. As morbid as it sounds, those awful, ugly times are usually the moments of greatest victory; the greatest celebrations in our lives.

But they don’t look like a party. And they certainly don’t feel like it. It usually feels like a painful time that’s dark, confusing, and hopeless. But if you will allow God to infuse the situation with His resurrection power, it’s easy to see just how beautiful the death process can be.

These poor women had just been through a horrific ordeal. They were, naturally, grieving when Jesus stopped them in their tracks and pointed out this was actually a time to celebrate. Can you imagine the rollercoaster of emotions they’d been on, at this point? Then Jesus goes and suggests they dry their tears and get the party started. What?!

It’s a beautiful thing to dance over your own grave; to sing and dance and shout when you have no earthly cause whatsoever. (Key phrase being earthly cause – because when we keep our eyes fixed on Heaven it seems perfectly sane to dance and sing and carry on in the midst of death and fear).

And, to take it one more ludicrous step further, I suggest we continue celebrating those death moments the rest of our lives. Why? Because they’re the ones that keep us alive. In fact, we dedicate an entire week – Easter week – to remembering His death and triumph over the grave. We paint pictures and write hymns and give cards celebrating Jesus’ miraculous exit from the tomb. Heck, every good Chris Tomlin song even includes the Cross. We must never stop celebrating Jesus’ death and resurrection. Why? Because it’s important. It’s crucial to our health and our relationship with Him; to remember what He did for us. Likewise, never stop celebrating your own death. Never stop remembering where he brought you from. It’s crucial to the health of your soul to never forget. Because when we look to the pit…when we remember death and the grave and what it felt like, we find a real reason to celebrate.

Turns out it’s not our mountaintop experience after all. It’s not our Grammy award-winning moment. Or our all-my-Disney-dreams-came-true plateau (although those are nice). It’s those dead, dying, death-in-its-grave-moments that are the ones worth celebrating.