I can recall some pretty tough defeats in my past. Many dealt with sports.
I don’t like losing and question those who feel winning is not important. My attitude has always been “If you don’t play to win, why bother to play the game at all?”
Winning feels good, and it’s only natural to enjoy winning in whatever we do. The sweet taste of victory brings me back to the next competition. And I’ve won enough to continue competing in sports and in the game of life.
I can still recall a wonderful victory that followed defeat not long after I became a Christian in my early 40s. Our church participated in a Christian softball league in the summer of 1985. We were not a strong team and we lost more games than we won during the regular season.
We were somewhat dejected but continued to show up anyway. At the end of the season we were slotted to play our first game of the double-elimination softball tournament against the church team with the best record. They annihilated us, and we immediately went into the loser’s bracket.
Amazingly, we rallied and won the final game of the consolation bracket. We wanted to face the team that placed us in the lower bracket. Well, we narrowly won the game.
Now we were up against our greatest adversary for possibly two more games with a chance to win the league championship. They were undefeated during the regular season and by far the best team.
We eked out a victory in that second game of the night and actually started to believe we could take it all. I was blessed with pitching all three games that final Saturday. Since we were in a slow-pitch league, my arm was just fine, but I did feel the stress of the occasion.
We actually did pull off the victory and I hit a bases-loaded home run that helped clinch the victory. There’s more to the story, but we all concluded that God planned on us being victorious all along!
That was my first experience in seeing defeat swallowed up in victory. Over the years I’ve seen God at work in numerous ways in business, personal and church-related situations. What I’ve learned to do is always accept the circumstance and then pray for deliverance if it’s God’s will.
Sometimes we need to go through what seems to be defeat. Trials strengthen us and help us to later overcome greater tragedies. We learn that our Lord is truly in control and we need to accept whatever He has in store for us. What’s most important is what awaits us on the Other Side in Heaven.
The story of Job is filled with dismal accounts of how God allowed Satan to take him down again and again, but God never allowed Satan to take his life. If you read the whole account in the Book of Job, you’ll find that Job was blessed in the final chapter. He and his family were restored to their right position and he praised God.
There are certainly times when we all may be down but definitely not out!
King David was anointed by the prophet Samuel as King of Israel as a young boy yet he did not oversee the kingdom for many years, spending the first few years serving King Saul and then hiding from his army for many years before Saul’s eventual death.
In God’s time, David reigned over Jerusalem and Israel for 40 years. He was a man after God’s own heart and pleasing in His eyes. He, too, was often down as we can read in many of his Psalms but not out!
Paul was a man who was often knocked down by his own people, the Jews, those who followed the Way and the many he reached with the Gospel message on his missionary journeys. Yet Paul never lost heart.
In Philippians 3:12-14 we’re told, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Satan wants to sift Christians like wheat and cause us to be ineffective for the cause of Christ. So, when you feel down and dejected I suggest you get back up and realize that our Lord is right there by your side and you need to press on for the prize that awaits all believers in Heaven. Keep the faith!
Passages to Ponder
— Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.