“Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life.Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.“
Often times it takes great defeat to inspire great victory. Think of all the teams, individuals, and countries who won great victories ONLY after suffering a great defeat. The Battle of Bannockburn AFTER the death of William Wallace. The Permian Panther’s State Championship in 1988 only AFTER losing the championship in 1987. Rich Froning’s Games victories in 2011 and 2012 only AFTER losing because of the rope climb in 2010.
Each of these examples are those where victory was found only after defeat was tasted. In each of these circumstance, it was the defeat that later fueled the victory. Sometimes, the lowest point in one’s athletic career is what fuels the highest.
I had the opportunity to chat with a distant friend from Georgia today and was given a fresh perspective. In Hebrews 11 we read all the way through the chapter of men and women of great faith who, because of the Lord’s grace, were able to accomplish much. As we near the end of the chapter you read that they literally shut the mouth of lions, quenched the power of fire, and put foreign armies to flight.
However, in verse 35 the chapter takes a turn. The writer of Hebrews goes from highlighting the high points of faith to revealing some of the realities of suffering in this world. What the author of Hebrews understands is that faith is not just a one sided reality. That often it takes both the upsides and the downsides of life to get a full grasp on faith. The reality is that the suffering, and the persecution, and the hardship is often the very substance of faith. Those who live on the mountaintop often don’t understand the necessity of faith in the valley. The author of Hebrews reveals this reality and shows how it often takes the valley and the hardships of life to strengthen one’s faith and make it complete. Often these hardships and suffering become God’s greatest gift to our faith.
Great examples are those living in poverty or in situations where persecution is consistent and constant. They don’t have the freedom of religion or their luxurious homes or their Christian lifestyles to fall back on and feel comfortable in. They literally only have Christ. The faith of those who have suffered much and experience much hardship is often more complete than those who lived all their lives on the mountaintop. They have a more full view of faith and as a result their faith is stronger.
Just as defeat can often times create perspective that fuels victory, hardship creates faith that fuels intimacy with God. Don’t let hardship, persecution, or suffering separate you from God but instead draw you closer.