The glory of defeat

EVERYBODY wants to be a winner. Second place just isn’t good enough. But if winning is the only thing, what about the losers? What about the rest of us?

I’ll tell you what’s left —  an incredible opportunity. Something so powerful that you always come out the other end transformed.

I’m not talking about sports or formal competitions. This isn’t about the business world. What about the battles you lose in everyday life? We’re so crippled these days after we make mistakes. The world offers lame solutions that don’t restore you.

It happens. You lose. You make bad decisions. You screw up. Now what?

There are basically two big temptations that appear when you fail. They both have to do with thought and position. They are:

  • Ignoring defeat (“Who me?”)

  • Thinking all is lost (“I’ll never be any good.”)

See what both have in common? Both are lies.

If you messed up, you messed up. No amount of denial rubs away truth. This doesn’t mean the game is over though either. No. There is “a more excellent way” (1 Cor 12:31).

The struggle against these lies is one of the greatest fights of your life. Why? The enemy messes with your mind turning yourself against you. That’s his specialty. He wants you to take a position of false perfection, ignorance, or complete failure. Satan lets you have your lie tightly bound to isolation and despair.

And what’s God’s answer to defeat?

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.  (Isaiah 43:19)

AWESOME! Everything new and wonderful — an open way and fresh spring water. That’s what God gives to the losers. Yes!

BUT WAIT. It’s not so simple, is it? Because you’re not looking for anesthesia here, are you? No, you seek truth. You seek real change. The truth is that mistakes cause pain — and nobody likes pain. Nobody wants to hurt.

When loss, failure, or defeat arrive at your door, face it. That’s right. Stare your shame in the eye. It will be uncomfortable. You’ll want to run away. It can even make you feel sick. Take the pain.

HANG IN THERE. It’s a process of purification. This builds your character more than anything. It’s not just losing, but seeking to understand why, and repenting for any sin involved. Remember the profound pain and sacrifice of Christ. Not just on the physical level, but on the spiritual playing field.

He took the blame.

Don’t hurry past that fact. Stop. Go back. Meditate on it. JESUS TOOK THE BLAME. JESUS! The most loving, faithful, obedient, and caring human ever — he took your blame and mine. Don’t ever, ever lose sight of this. And when you mess up, go back to this truth.

When we sin, the core problem isn’t really a lack of judgement. Instead, it’s the lack of love. That’s what sin is — the absence of love. When love is absent, sin multiplies. When love abounds, sin withers and dies.

When defeat appears in life, recognize your sin. Stay on the side of truth, no matter how uncomfortable it is.

Hurry to the presence of the Father.

The first move is the hardest. You won’t want to go. Your pride will tell you it’s no big deal. Your shame will tell you God doesn’t want you anymore. But it’s all lies. In fact, the Father wants all of you and loves you even though you have gone against him.  He wants to make you holy and pure. But first, you must be humiliated.

To the world this makes no sense at all. Now I don’t mean you have to be humiliated in front of people. If you offended someone, then yes, you must apologize. But the deep humiliation occurs in the presence of God alone. Since when you finally crawl back to him, nothing can be hidden. You can’t hide from the truth. It’s better to repent, confess, and be free. In the white hot light of God’s truth, all sin gets burned away…

…and only love remains.

…for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29)

You see, this is Christ-like. Sin dies. And you are resurrected in life.

What happens next reveals God’s glory. The demon is all smoke and mirrors. That place — where the enemy convinced you that all is lost — is now empty. There’s nothing there. Poof. And now, in the presence of our loving Lord, he pours out his love, mercy, and Spirit into that empty space.

In exchange for your nastiness, he replaces it with himself. Unbelievable. It’s an extravagant love.

Defeat is God’s victory. Winner takes all.

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