#214: Seizing Victory from the Agony of Defeat

Have you ever been so discouraged you felt like giving up? You saw the light at the end of the tunnel and realized it was just another train about to mow you down.

Victory Defeat

It seems there is an epidemic of discouragement and uncertainty in our world today. We live in most uncertain times. Economies around the world are experiencing turmoil. More people live in poverty than ever before. Millions and millions of people have become refugees fleeing their ancestral homes to avoid war.

On a more individual level, a decline in spiritual maturity has been met with moral decay. Marriages are failing at record rates. More children are being born into single-parent homes than ever before. Crime in our inner cities is out of control.

How are we to make sense of it all? How can we avoid the spirit of discouragement or defeat that has surrounded so many?

The answer lies in our faith. Let’s look at a few Bible characters whose faith allowed them to seize victory from the agony of defeat, who were down but not defeated.

Joseph Endured Difficulties

Joseph was his father’s favorite. He had a bright future, but his jealous brothers pretended he was dead and sold him into slavery. Things were looking up a little when he became the house manager for a powerful man but then he was falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison.

Job Experienced Adversity

Job was successful and wealthy with a large family. In a period of days his flocks, his herds, and even his family were all taken from him. In the midst of his despair, he was struck with painful boils all over his body.

Naaman was Ostracized

Naaman was a revered military commander. At some point in his life, he contracted leprosy and became a complete outcast from society and even his own family.

Daniel Faced Governmental Oppression

As a teenager, Daniel was taken prisoner by a conquering army. He was ripped away from his family and taken to a foreign land. He was ordered to worship the king, but Daniel refused, vowing to worship only the Lord God, even if it meant death.

Esther Faced Racism

Esther was a Jewish virgin who was taken to be part of the harem of the king of Persia. She found favor with the king who made her his queen. But Haman, a high-ranking official in the Persian government, hated Jews and hatched a plan to annihilate the entire Jewish population throughout the Persian empire.

Ruth was a Refugee

Ruth was a Moabite widow who left her homeland with Naomi, her mother-in-law to travel back to Naomi’s homeland. She had no possessions and no money. She was forced to pick grain at the edge of the fields to survive.

Great Faith was Rewarded with Victory

Joseph, Job, Naaman, Daniel, Esther, and Ruth were all down but never defeated. Because of their great faith, they all rose above their persecution.

  • Joseph got out of prison and rose to second in command of the Egyptian empire. This put him in a position to save his father and brothers from starvation during a seven-year famine.
  • Job maintained his faith in God throughout all his trials. Because of his faith, God restored Job’s wealth and granted him more children. He lived 140 more years and saw four more generations born to his children.
  • Naaman believed his Jewish servant girl who told him if he had faith the prophet of God could cure his leprosy. Naaman had faith, sought out Elisha the prophet, and was cured of his leprosy.
  • Daniel survived certain death in the lion’s den because God protected him. The king was so happy that God had protected Daniel from the lions that the king wrote a letter declaring Daniel’s God to be the living God who endures forever.
  • Esther became aware of Haman’s plan to kill all the Jews, so she hatched her own plan to trap Haman. Her plan worked. Haman was hung, and the king issued an edict allowing the Jews to take revenge on all those who had threatened them.
  • Ruth followed the advice of Naomi her mother-in-law to seek out Boaz, her nearest relative. Boaz redeemed Ruth and became her husband. Their great-great grandchild was David, the king of Israel.

Paul said it well as he wrote to the Philippians when he proclaimed, I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We can experience victory. But we must have faith, and we must trust God when He says that He will work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever experienced difficulties persecution like Joseph, Job, Naaman, Daniel, Esther or Ruth? Has there ever been a time when God enabled you to seize victory from the jaws of defeat?  What happened?

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Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

 

 

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17 thoughts on “#214: Seizing Victory from the Agony of Defeat

  1. God knows I’ve experienced difficulties in life, as we all have. When my mom passed away in 2009, my whole world came crashing down. My dad was suddenly alone raising two kids and I had to grow up and take care of my little brother. My dad wasn’t able to work for a long time and at that point we just tried to survive. The only thing that kept me going was seeing my dad’s relentless faith in God despite the pain of loss and hopelessness. He never stopped worshipping in the closet, tithing, praying, and believing that God held us together. I’ve learned that God always comes through for us when we keep our eyes on Him. I never would have ended up at APU if it weren’t for later circumstances that occurred due to not having a mother. I wouldn’t have been able to afford to go to college unless I had the financial aid from my father being unemployed for so many years. God works in mysterious ways but I trust that He has the best plan even though I can’t always see the big picture.

    • Tasha,
      I can’t imagine your family’s pain losing a parent/spouse at such a young age. I would love to meet your dad. He is clearly a man of great faith and character–two important traits he has passed on to you through his example.

  2. I think that we become the people we are today because of the hard times we go through. God molds us through these times, and we grow through them. The way I got to APU was through a really hard time in my life where I felt defeated because I did not like my first university, and I was not happy there. That hard time got me to APU, and now I am so happy here. I could not imagine being anywhere else. God’s plans are always greater than our own.

    • Megan,
      Yes, God molds us through our trials and if we are willing to submit to him, we will learn and become stronger in the process.

  3. I think it is so important to note that the cause for moral decay starts with our own spiritual maturity. The way we deal with hardships or handle conflict through our faith proves how we can avoid the spirit of discouragement or defeat. Joseph, Job, Naaman, Daniel, Esther, and Ruth all alike were all down, but never defeated. They rose against their own fear and persecution and with trust in God overcame those obstacles. Romans 8:28 is a verse that I have always lived by ever since I was a child. It states, “We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We can experience victory. But we must have faith, and we must trust God when He says that He will work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” God has always been my rock through difficult times and is always by our sides whether we want him to be or not, however, he gives us the decision to accept that invitation of his work in our lives. It is not until we full devote ourselves to Him that we can experience his miracles.

    • Elisa,
      I agree! Moral decay surrounds us and it is a direct result of people walking (running) away from God. A verse from Matthew (5:19) stood out as I was studying this weekend,

      “Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

      Jesus had just finished the Sermon on the Mount and was giving these further instructions to the disciples. We must remain steadfast in all things!

  4. I really enjoyed this weeks post as I really related to it. I have really grown in my faith and become a better version of myself through facing hard times. In fact, the reason I was blessed to come to APU was because of trying circumstances that led me here. I think it is so important that as believers, we remember God is always with us and we need to keep our faith in Him that He will help us through every trial we face.

    • Allison,
      Yes. So often this is the case, our spiritual maturity and our faith often grow the most when we endure the trials of life!

  5. I love this post! There are many times when we think that we have been defeated but God always redeems our situations. These are great examples of situations that looked like they had no hope, but each of these individuals had great faith that God would restore and redeem their current situation. God’s plan is always better than our own, even when He takes us through trials that we think we will never recover from. Sometimes it’s hard to see what God is doing, but He promises to never leave us and in the end we can always see His amazing plan that He had all along for trial laid before us. This is a great reminder for me to trust God always even if things don’t play out how I want them to.

    • Ashley,
      I love this thought, God redeems our situations. It reminds me of Joel 2:25, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten– the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm — my great army that I sent among you.” Yes, the Lord restores and redeems!

  6. I enjoyed reading about the examples you provided about people who persevered through their struggles all by keeping their faith in Christ. At least for me, in my fast-paced life, I often forget these real examples of how God helped those who never lost their faith and it encourages me to continue to develop my relationship with Him. From this I am reminded that perfect situations don’t exist because if we had the perfect plan then we would not have to trust in God. Our trust in God is the most important thing so maybe discouragement comes to us so that we remember our need for Christ.

    • Kelsey,
      I agree, in our face-paced lives we have a tendency to think we have a perfect plan. We take our eyes off of our Father, and find out the hard way our plan wasn’t so perfect after all! It’s all about having faith to trust in God’s perfect plan.

  7. There is always going to be struggles that we face, but it is important to keep the faith. I have always liked the honesty shown in Job where despite everything that happened to him he kept his faith in Jesus. Even when he lost everything he refused to abandon his faith. The other reason that I like Job is that it showed the humanity of Job getting mad at God. yet there is still hope because even after all of that, God was willing to forgive him. I like this because so many other stories show people showing faith in trials but not doubt. Job shows doubt, but God still forgives him.

    • Ben,
      Great observation about Job. His story is one of great loss and his resulting anger with God. Yet, even in his anger, Job’s faith in God remained steadfast. It is a good lesson for all of us!

  8. Faith and hope are powerful allies in the battle against despair and discouragement. The biblical personalities you shared are proof. Thanks Ron.

    • Indeed, faith and hope are often the only tools we have to battle despair and discouragement! The hardest part of writing this article was limiting the character studies to just these six examples.