Defeat. In life, it’s something we experience. We fall. We make mistakes. And many times we make them over and over again before we even begin to make progress in whatever area of our life that we are trying to gain traction. Defeat is tough, but many times, within defeat, there are the keys to our next victory. In defeat, we can either choose to get better, learn, grow, or we can stay bitter and believe that we just can’t win. Victory is not only something that is earned, it is also something that is learned. We may have to fall many times, before we finally learn how to truly take hold of the victory in life that Christ has already won for us by His death and resurrection.
I am an Atlanta Sports fan, and with that has come many, many gut wrenching moments. We play well in the regular season, and at times in the playoffs, but in the most important moments, we choke. We give up the lead. We collapse. For example, the Falcons losing to the Patriots in the Super Bowl after being up 28-3. And then again last night, the Dodgers storming back from a 3-1 series deficit to force a Game 7, and eeking out a 4-3 hard fought win to advance to the World Series.
While most will focus on the collapse of the Braves, maybe there should be more focus given to the Dodgers. They’ve endured just as much heart break as the Braves. The past four postseasons, the Dodgers have lost two World Series. They’ve lost in the NLCS. And they’ve lost in the NLDS. The Braves, just won their first postseason series in the past 11 tries, and they even made it to the NLCS for the first time since 2001. Those are big accomplishments. The Braves are just experiencing what it’s like to win big games. The Dodgers have been there and done that.
And now the Dodgers get a third crack at the World Series for the third time in five years. Whether they win it or not, we’ll find out soon. But they have experienced the heart break of defeat. You have to think that all that experience losing has got to count for something in this season’s World Series. But we will see.
Anyways, what does the Braves collapsing, and the Dodgers winning have to do with anything? Well, I’m glad you asked. In life, just like in sports, there is victory and defeat. We all wish that our current circumstances and hardships would just go away in an instant. We pray for instant healing and instant victory, but many times that is not how it works. In life, just like in sports, we have to many times fall before we learn how to stand. At first, just like a newborn, we crawl, because we don’t have the strength to stand. And then we begin to get the strength to stand. But with that strength, comes the risk that we take to stand, even though we may fall. And then when we stand we may totter and wobble about and then fall again, but then we have to get back up. The more though that we totter and wobble along, eventually we will gain the balance to truly walk. And then after learning how to walk, and gaining the confidence to walk, then we begin to jog, and then from jogging to running, and then from running to sprinting.
While victory is a point A to point B destination, the route is never that simple. Victory is a process. Defeat is inevitable, yet it’s how we respond to those defeats, that will determine if we stay bitter in our falling, or if we get better. If we decide to stay bitter, and continue the narrative that we just can’t get over the hump, then we will stay in our anger, frustrations, depressions, and disappointments and never achieve the plans that God has for us. Instead though if we choose to feel the pain of the falls, learn from our mistakes and sins, and grow, we can get better. We can learn how to claim the victory that has already been won for us in Jesus.
How will you respond to your defeats?
Will you stay in your bitterness? Unbelief? Sin?
Or will you look closely, examine, pray, learn, grow, and begin to get better?
Will you learn to crawl? And risk it all to stand? To walk? To jog? To run? To sprint?
The choice is yours.
“For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity” (Proverbs 24:16).
Right now, I’m still in the process of learning how to stand holistically in Christ. I’m still kind of tottering and wobbling about, but I know each and every day that I’m learning from my past defeats, and failures. I’m learning how to stand firm in Christ, and that in Him is where my hope, joy, peace, and strength is found. I’m learning to let others in. I’m learning how to be held accountable. I’m learning how to endure. And I’m growing.
Each day, I take a step, trusting that God has got me, trusting that He is teaching me how endure the pain, to lean on Him, to not try to do it on my own. Each day, I become more balanced, I gain more strength, and I am beginning to walk with just a little less wobble, and more clarity, and more strength. And you can too.