Dealing With Defeat

“All this happened to us, though we had not forgotten you or been false to your covenant . . . ” Psalm 44:17

God’s people throughout the ages have faced defeat that was difficult to explain. They suffered defeat that seemed unwarranted, despite their faithfulness to God.

chess pieces in defeat

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Take King David whose heartache spilled onto parchment in Psalms soaked with tears of defeat. It was a common experience for this man of God, a portion of the cup given him to drink. Sometimes it’s our portion, too.

Do you ever wonder what God means by it?

Maybe you have a quick answer. “Character, humility, and faith building. Building a strong witness to the world around us. To grow closer to God.” But sometimes even the best “explanations ” fail to fill the gap between God’s sovereignty and our understanding of it.

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When I consider my most painful experiences of defeat, at times God’s action or inaction is a mystery to me. You, too? How then do we sail through the billows without foundering on doubt and fear?

The most helpful thing for me is to reflect on God’s faithfulness. When I review the history of God’s faithfulness to His people — even when enemies exulted over them in apparent victory, I am encouraged. Because when the dust cleared, didn’t God faithfully uphold and preserve His people? Didn’t He ultimately blow their mind with a God-sized victory?

Consider King Hezekiah who suffered defeat at the hands of a godless Assyrian king:

“After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified cities, thinking to conquer them for himself…” II Chronicles 32:1

Sennacherib “invaded Judah.” That means a defeat with real casualties. Was this just “part of life”? A basic “enemy 101” attack? Did Hezekiah do something wrong to bring this defeat on himself and his kingdom? (There’s no indication of that.) And since Hezekiah was faithful, as Scripture clearly states, was victory even possible in the face of God’s “permissive will”? Yet look what followed Hezekiah’s faith-testing defeat:

” . . . King Hezekiah . . . cried out in prayer . . .  [to God]. And the Lord sent an angel, who annihilated all the fighting men . . . in the camp of the Assyrian king . . . [who] withdrew to his own land in disgrace . . . So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem . . . He took care of them on every side. Many brought offerings . . . for the Lord and valuable gifts for Hezekiah king of Judah. From then on he was highly regarded by all the nations.” II Chronicles 32:1, 20-23

When we trust God in the midst of defeat, He will deliver a God-sized victory that will blow our mind, too.

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silhouette of woman in victory

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With God’s people, defeat is never the end of our story.  [Tweet “With God’s people, defeat is never the end of our story.”]

Defeat is that mysterious turn in the tide God uses to anchor our hearts in His —

— and to prepare us for a God-sized victory.

“If the Gospels were truly the pattern of God’s activity, then defeat was only the beginning.” Corrie Ten Boom

In what area of your life could you use a God-sized victory today?

Comments 4

    1. Thanks, Karen. I, too, could use a God-sized victory about now. 🙂

  1. Favorite line: “With God’s people, defeat is never the end of our story.” Amen, amen, and amen again.

    1. And can I add another “Amen” to yours? Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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