I watched Ed’s JV football game yesterday with fading hope for a win. His team made a valiant effort but went down to defeat. But, in the moments following the game, the coach gathered those players on the field and urged them to focus on the next game. Those boys stood to raise their helmets and their voices raising in a team chant could be heard a 100 yards away.
In professional sports the Chicago Cubs are legendary for their losses! They have not been to a World Series since 1945 and have not won the National League in 70 years. Yet, Cub fans hang on, hoping year might be the one when they finally triumph.
Hundreds of books counsel us with winning strategies. Gaining and honing a set of skills for life is a worthy thing. Becoming a person of excellence – spiritually, emotionally, physically – is something we for which we should train ourselves. But in life there is a stark reality – nobody wins every time. A mark of success is knowing how to cope with the inevitable disappointments that we will all experience. Those who have learned the character, sharpened the vision, and strengthened the faith that allows them to overcome failure are, in my opinion, the truly successful people.
Paul takes us to the stadium and reminds us that “in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NLT)
Are you a noble winner? When you find success, do you remember all those who were part of the effort to get you where you are?
Equally important, are you a person who knows how to recover from loss? When you get knocked down, do you complain bitterly or blame everyone else?
During the Second World War, a young Christian woman from Holland named Corrie Ten Boom, was part of a family that tried to shield Jews from the Nazis after their country was occupied. In February, 1944, Corrie, her sister, Betsie, and her father were arrested. He died just 10 days after his arrest. Corrie and Betsie ended up at Ravensbruck where Betsie died from malnutrition and abuse. Corrie survived the war and returned to Holland where she began to serve people who had been so terribly hurt by that awful war. She became a speaker, known ‘round the world for message of forgiveness and reconciliation, her story told in The Hiding Place. We hate the suffering that evil visited on these good people. We cannot celebrate the sorrow and pain, but there is much to learn from her resilient faith. She took the worst kind of abuse and chose faith, emerging from that time with a life that was marked by love, joy, and peace. I call that real success! How about you?
In this word from the Word, take note of Paul’s resilient faith.
“All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.
We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. When we suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. If we are treated well, given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching.
Your hard times are also our hard times. When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-7, The Message)
Are you a good loser?
Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.
Lord I come, I confess,
Bowing here, I find my rest.
And without You, I fall apart,
You’re the one that guides my heart.
Lord I need You, oh, I need You;
Ev’ry hour I need You.
My one defense, my righteousness,
Oh God, how I need You!
Christy Nockels | Daniel Carson | Jesse Reeves | Kristian Stanfill | Matt Maher
© 2011 sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)