Adversity and Defeat

Recently, Michael Brown, who is the host of the talk radio show The Line of Fire. And the president of FIRE School of Ministry, recently wrote an excellent article entitled, “4 Spiritual Lessons From The Mayweather/Pacquiao Fight.” Now I admit that when I read the title, my first thought was, “Oh! You can actually learn something from the fight?”

What I discovered was indeed a very insightful article. One of Brown’s comments really struck a cord, for me:

“. . . our superficial, always-win theology doesn’t have a place for losing, it is often through defeat and adversity that we grow the most.”

This is such so important for all of us! Motivational speaker Napoleon Hill, wrote:

“. . . look for the seed of an equivalent benefit in every defeat you
experience. This isn’t always easy when you’ve suffered a setback, but it is an important part of the science of
personal achievement.”

See what I mean? We don’t like thinking about those kinds of things, but we must address the stuff that irritates us the most. Do you remember the story of Job, and how he faced trial after trial, but his great enemy, Satan, continued to attack him and never once seemed abashed over his failure to prove his accusations! He argued that Job would renounce Yahweh the moment he faced hardship. And as you should remember, Job never did renounce Yahweh!

But here’s the thing with all of the trials in our own lives. If someone loses a home in a storm, such as in a tornado, they are understandably shocked and dismayed, but they go on, don’t they? I have heard about many who made bad financial investments and literally lost everything, filed bankruptcy and were left with nothing. However, despite their loss, they maintained their general health, recovered their losses and went on with life.

Certainly, many weak individuals have taken their lives over less, but most people are able to recover, pick up the pieces and move on, usually stronger and wiser than before. I remember something Howard Ruff wrote in his book Making Money, in a chapter entitled Going for Broke:

“We hear a lot of pitiful stories in the ‘War Room’ from people who have been forced into bankruptcy or who have been defrauded out of large sums of money . . . They are devastated. Their self-image is shattered, their morale is destroyed and they feel scarred for life . . . I have learned that failure is not only not the end of the world, but that, when properly managed, recovery and rehabilitation can become an exhilarating, even euphoric, experience. There is nothing more exciting than picking yourself up and proving that your failure was merely a freak happenstance, one of those things that doesn’t need to be explained or excused.”

In the introduction of the same book, Ruff confessed that after losing his business, accumulating a debt of over a half million dollars, and suffering the death of his 21 month-old son, that “it was at times like that you find out whether or not your beliefs are bone-deep or skin-shallow.” How true!

This is certainly true when your health is maintained. However, when someone’s health is taken from them, it is difficult (although not impossible) to stand. It is so easy to be strong and confident when you are without any pain, but it sure is hard when your flesh is crying out in agony. Think how listless, and burned out you feel with something as simple as a head cold. Can you imagine being attacked with, as Job was, sore boils from head to foot?

When it comes to the topic of physical pain, when you are not the one actually experiencing the pain, you can entertain all kinds of noble theories about it. As long as it is happening to someone else, pain is just an abstraction, an unfortunate blight on an otherwise tolerable world. But, boy, oh boy, as soon as the Devil so much as touches your own body the whole picture changes. At that point, suffering becomes an enormous, concrete reality so overwhelming that it has the power to engulf everything else.

There are all kinds of examples describing what happens when strong, intelligent, self-assured people are suddenly caught in the grip of acute pain. Many believers are able, by God’s grace, to bear enormous burdens of physical pain with dignity and even with joy. On the other hand, when a smaller degree of pain is applied to another believer, who may be just as godly, it can be enough to plunge them into depression or make them lose all control and whimper and scream for mercy. When King Hezekiah was struck with sickness, he “turned his face to the wall” and “wept bitterly.” He simply could not take it.

But what do we do with that? We need to ask ourselves this because the time to begin mastering this skill is now, not while you are licking your wounds. Ask yourself, how will you respond?

I am sure all of us have seen animals who experience a painful situation. They become timid and cower away to avoid an abusive situation again. But we are not animals! We must become humble so that we can acquire wisdom and understanding. We must realize that the turning point in our faith is usually defined by some form of defeat or failure. We should never look at defeat as failure, but only as a temporary event that will prove to be a blessing in disguise!

Hey, since I brought up Job, and yes, I have addressed this many times before, but it is something we must always keep in mind. When the Tormentor argued his case, he never said, “Take away his wealth, because he has too much.” He said, “Take it away and he will renounce you.” Satan could not care less about Job’s wealth, or health, or family. It was Job’s devotion and love for the Lord that irritated Satan.

I think the clearest illustration of this truth is seen in Mark 4:14-20. Specifically verse 15, when Jesus said, “Satan comes immediately to take away the Word that was sown.” Notice it was the Word he was after, not the soil. In fact, verse 17 clearly says that the adversity comes because of the Word that was sown! You, in and of yourself, mean nothing to Satan. If is your devotion and your faith that he hates. It is the good fight of faith we are to fight! So when you start experiencing difficulties, even if they are painful, or heartrending losses, know that your Father is not tormenting you, but rather, your adversary is attempting to steal the Word that is sown in your heart! He wants you to renounce your God! He is looking to make you stumble in your faith and to become depressed and defeated!

Proverbs 24:10 says, “If you faint in the day of adversity your faith was weak.” One translation says that your faith was shallow (or insincere). The Living Bible says it even plainer when it states that you are a poor specimen if you can’t stand the pressure of adversity. OUCH!

I have heard it rightly said that you could judge a man’s commitment by how much of a storm it would take before he gave up and quit. That being true, we can see the immense confidence the Lord has in His servant Job — and in you!

Like Young Christian, in Bunyan’s wonderful tale, we must face many hardships and terrible troubles, yet with undaunted faith and commitment, continue our journey to the City of Zion. And even though we may be wounded, bruised and knocked down, reach for our Sword and yell out “Don’t rejoice over me, O my Enemy! When I fall, I shall arise!”


(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)

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