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Lessons From Defeat

The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction. Joshua 7:10-12

We live in a world that celebrates winners and vilifies losers. Many parents push their children to extremes so they can become winners at any cost. There is a race to conquer space by some of the wealthiest countries in the world, and the US, China, and Russia are determined to win that race. The arms race has been ongoing since the mid 20th Century, and each of the so-called superpowers wants to win that race as well by having the most lethal military arsenal on earth.

Therefore, I am compelled to wonder if there are any valuable lessons in losing. After all, Jesus lost his life so sinful humanity can live. Moses would not have become the liberator of Israel and the prophet of Yahweh if he did not lose his position as the prince of Egypt.

By no means am I celebrating losing? But I acknowledge losing can teach believers many practical and spiritual lessons that can help us in our Christian journey. At the very least, losing forces us to change our errant ways and look for solutions.

Losing compels us to do a spiritual recalibration. The word calibrate means to adjust, carefully assess, or gauge one's actions based on a standard scale. Spiritual recalibration is the process by which one evaluates their life based on the word of God. Defeat, forces believers to ask poignant questions about their spiritual walk. It makes them rethink their priorities and reset their goals in light of their relationship with God.

Often, defeat drives believers to their knees and forces them to rely on God instead of their talents, accomplishments, or their positions. In defeat, we remain fervent in prayer and humble in our petitions. Most believers run to God after experiencing defeat and invite the Lord to take control of their plight instead of exerting the confidence they often feel after a victory which can tempt us to assume we do not need God.

When the Israelites were defeated by the people of Ai, they were forced to go back and cry out to God for mercy. Initially, the Israelites marched against Ai with overconfidence and arrogance. They were certain they would defeat the people of Ai. Therefore, they did not ask God if they should march against the people of Ai. If they did, they would have discovered that God was not pleased with them because Achan son of Kami had sinned against the Lord by taking forbidden items from the plunder of Jericho.

The defeat against Ai forced the Israelites to consecrate themselves and clean their camp of any ungodly things. This defeat reminded the Israelites that their existence and prosperity depended on their faithfulness to God. In defeat, the Israelites learned about the holiness of God and were reminded that God always honors His word.

Perhaps you are experiencing a season of defeat in your life and are perplexed by its source and reasons. May I encourage you to go to God in a spirit of consecration and repentance so you can recalibrate your spiritual walk with Him? Stop feeling guilty, angry, discouraged, and ashamed. Your defeat may be one of the best things that has happened to you in the larger scope of things. Trust that God will bring you out as you look to Him to fight your battles and give you strength to endure.

God does not waste any experience. He is a God of a second chance. A defeat does not necessarily mean your destruction. Ask God to reveal to you how to overcome your defeat and use that experience as a testimony to help others in their adversity.

Questions for Personal Reflection

What lessons have you learned about God and yourself when you experience defeat?

What do you do when you face defeat?

Prayer- Blessed Lord, thank you for being a God who gives me the strength to overcome defeat. Please help me to turn to you by faith and trust that you will give me victory when I struggle with defeat.

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