Saturday, September 29, 2007

It’s good . . . to go down to Defeat

Genesis 37-50 tells the beautiful story of Joseph. His name means, “the Lord shall add,” and the Lord added to him many things. The casual reader may remember that God gave him power, making him second in command in all of Egypt. Or you may remember that he was his father’s favorite son, who gave him a coat of many colors. But did you know what God gave him? God gave Joseph a resilient spirit that accepted defeat, and an ability to overcome it that few people have ever experienced.

Again, you may be able to remember when Joseph was defeated. The story of Joseph being robbed, stripped and sold into slavery by his brothers is well known. But his greatest sense of defeat was when he was accused of rape by Potiphar's Wife, and spent two years as a criminal in the king’s prison for a crime he never committed.

Heaven and earth view defeat differently. The world views defeat as the way to prove that you are a looser, and Joseph may have felt like one on many occasions. But Heaven says the only way to win is to be defeated first and Joseph is an ideal example of this.

You have probably experienced defeat in your own life. Whether on the job, at home, or among friends, feeling defeated has been experienced by many. Wayne Watson continues his song with council for the defeated.

It's good to go down to defeat now and then
To fail at some noble pursuit
To fall short of the prize
And find in His eyes
There's nothing your victory can do
To secure higher favor
He cannot love you more than now
Winners and losers
All are the same somehow

The last line of this verse proclaims one of the most unheard truths in our society. Whether differences become evident at work, school, in your family or your social circle, we know we are “all the same somehow” and we cherish this. Yet as long as we view our differences positively, it makes us feel successful and we cherish them even more. “I was the only one to receive this raise because I was able to do something none of the others could.” “I’m the only person here to have this disability, so I ride for free,” or the old kids rhyme that I heard many times this week, “I’m the king of the castle and you’re the dirty rascal!” As much as we may claim that we are the same our differences stick out like soar thumbs, and as long as we are on top, we love them because that makes us unique. But, if we are not on top, our overwhelming feeling may be one of deep sorrow instead. It is to this topic that Watson turns next.

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