Nobody likes to lose. We hate it when our favourite team loses a match. (Arsenal supporters like me are familiar with the feeling.) Sometimes the stakes are very much higher. There were three elections held recently, the Bukit Batok by-election here in Singapore, the Sarawak state elections back home in Malaysia, and the presidential elections in the Philippines. Some are happy with the results. Some feel, to varying degrees, anger, frustration and fear because the side/candidate they were supporting lost. Followers of Jesus would have their convictions as to who/which side was closer to the angels. Yet that person/side lost. This is not an article that defends a particular candidate/side. I want to talk about losing.
I am sure the forces of darkness rejoiced when Jesus died. If you need help imagining this, go watch the scene where the White Witch kills Aslan in the movie The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (2005). But we now know that Jesus’ greatest loss was in fact His greatest victory.
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:15 NIV)
Note, He conquered by the cross. His death on the cross was the victory. The resurrection confirmed the victory but the victory was won on the cross. He won when He lost. Here was God’s cosmic, holy sting.
Following this, God then demands a certain degree of tentativeness about winning and losing. Perhaps we shouldn’t be too happy when we “win” and we shouldn’t be in too much despair when we “lose”.
I am not advocating that we indulge in denial at the tragedies of life. If someone is dying of cancer, she is dying of cancer. Pretending it ain’t so won’t make it go away. If God wants to do a miracle He will, and medical tests will confirm it. If Islamic State has conquered a town and is murdering thousands, that is a horrible tragedy. We can’t redefine it away. Jesus’ death was the murder of an innocent man. It was evil.
Bad is bad. I am only saying that God makes something good out of bad. Hence the promise of this verse:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV).
Therefore we mustn’t let “defeats” embitter us and make us give up. God is working though He may not always show us His hand. But we do need to be patient. Easter didn’t immediately follow Good Friday. It came on the third day. But it did come.
Losing sucks. But in the things that matter, we remember that Jesus is on the throne and He is working things out. So we continue to work as well. We choose each day, however we may feel, to respond to Paul’s exhortation in 1 Corinthians 15:58,
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV).
There will be times this side of heaven, when choosing not to give up is winning.