“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
Every year, when Holy Week arrives and we commemorate the passion and death of the Lord, I wonder to myself how many disciples were lost for good, who never came back. It seems to be very much a part of our human nature not only to abhor failure but to do everything in our power to flee from it. When some of the disciples saw their hoped-for Messiah dying on the cross, I wonder if they fled and never gave themselves the chance to believe in the stories that they had heard afterward of Jesus’ resurrection. Would that be too much for them to believe?
It certainly looked, did it not, as if Jesus were defeated when He hung on the cross and died on the cross? For all intents and purposes, Jesus was done. He was finished. All that He began was over. His defeat was final. Ah, but, F. Scott Fitzgerald would remind us, “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” Jesus may have appeared to be defeated but He was hardly down for the count. The count only made it to three because on the third day He rose from the dead. He was not defeated at all.
There have been times in our own faith lives when we may have felt as if we had been defeated. We may have attempted to grow in our prayer life. Perhaps we decided to try serving others in a reach out ministry. Whatever our attempt, we may have landed flat on our faces. Did we allow those defeats to cause us to quit? Or, did those defeats help to define our character? Did we, in the process, remind ourselves that getting up and trying again was always an option?
I am convinced that we will only suffer a final defeat when we decide that we will no longer try. Until that moment, every defeat has some opportunity for instruction and growth. Every defeat reminds us that we can push on. Every defeat gives us the chance to unite our defeats with the “defeat” of the Lord. They could not keep Jesus down and, with His help, they will not be able to stop us from living the faith either.
FAITH ACTION: Pray for those who have allowed defeat of any kind to prevent them from making any further progress in their faith lives.