Many of you may remember the theme of ABC’s Wide World of Sports: The Thrill Of Victory, And The Agony Of Defeat. Isn’t it true? You play any sports, take a standardized test, work in sales, or just live in our culture and you will understand one thing about our culture. We love winners. We love champions.
I, like most of you, have lived long enough to experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. When you experience victory, the crowd cheers and you hear the roar of your name. But, if you experience defeat, crowds “boo and hiss”, people avoid you and they reject you. I’ve had my agony of defeat and maybe you’ve had yours. Here’s what I’ve noticed and experienced: People Are Drawn Towards Those Who Have Won By Defying Adversity. They’ve Beat This Thing Called Defeat.
I think this cultural bias is why people are drawn to the story of Job. We are using this story from the Bible to go through this series: Surviving Your D-Days. As we described last week, Job is the classic story of this struggle between good and evil, of someone who is a great guy who doesn’t deserve to have bad things happen to him; but who has to deal with evil things. He has to overcome life’s most challenging obstacles.
As we’ll see today in Chapter 2, he had to survive the worst kind of invasion—the invasion that becomes personal. It’s different when the invasion hits our friends, work, our nation, or even our family members. It’s not that we don’t care about what is happening to our family and friends. But when it becomes personal, it’s a different movie all together. For Job, this is personal; it became a personal defeat, a personal D-Day invasion for Job.
Job 2:1-7 (NLT)
1 One day the members of the heavenly court came again to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. 2 “Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan. Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.”
3 Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil. And he has maintained his integrity, even though you urged me to harm him without cause.”
4 Satan replied to the Lord, “Skin for skin! A man will give up everything he has to save his life. 5 But reach out and take away his health, and he will surely curse you to your face!”
6 “All right, do with him as you please,” the Lord said to Satan. “But spare his life.” 7 So Satan left the Lord’s presence, and he struck Job with terrible boils from head to foot.
Job is afflicted with a painful skin disorder from head to toe. It’s probably not that long since he was grieving in Chapter One. Now he is grieving in a culturally relevant way. He is sitting in a pile of ashes and he’s shaved his head but this time he’s covered in sores from head to toe from this disease.
He is in pain, and this pain takes on a whole new meaning. He has broken pieces of pottery and he begins to cut at his sores to relieve the pressure and pain. Listen, defeat cuts us to the core because it’s personal. Satan, our adversary, knows that. However, Job shows us that the main way to survive the D-Day Invasion Of Defeat And Failure is to not let it become personal.
It takes Job a while before he understands this. It can’t be personal in the sense of who we are! We may suffer defeat or may fail at things but it does not mean we are failures, and that we are forced to live defeated lives. So, Here’s the one thing you need to remember: Getting Knocked Down 7 Times Does Not Make You A Failure, If You Get Up 8 Times.
The movie “The Rookie” tells the true story of Jimmy Morris. Jimmy grew up in a poor town in Texas. It was an oil town that knew defeat when its booming oil industry dried up and the town dried up too. He had an unsupportive father. Because of injuries he was never able to go beyond 1A Baseball after high school.
Jimmy stayed in the same dead town and was a high school science teacher, but it’s not what he dreamed of being. He’s coaching a losing team in a failing baseball program. They had only won one game per year from 1996-98. In 1999, spring baseball had begun. The school doesn’t want this team; no one comes to see these boys play. They play their first game and they lose.
But more than just lose the game, Jimmy sees the bigger picture. They aren’t just losing on the baseball field. They are growing up to be losers. They are growing up to be failures. They aren’t just failing; they believe it about themselves. After this game, he gives a speech that will forever change their life and his. He tells them, “You’ve given up even before you started. And the sad thing is you don’t even know it.”
Let me ask you some questions:
- What Kind Of Failures From Your Past Or Even Your Present Haunts You?
- What Areas Are You Feeling An Invasion Of Defeat In Right Now?
- Have You Given Up On Dreams Because Of Some Failure?
Have you ever said, “That’s who I am; I’m just a failure. That’s all I will ever be. I will always be dumb, or poor, or divorced or had or did or whatever.”? What is it for you?
For many of us, we have lived with or we are living now with the sense that we are a failure and that we will always be just that: A Failure. So we live a defeated life. We allow the invasion of defeat take control and wipe us out. Allow me to share 4 quick lessons with you today from the life of Job, and from my own experiences:
1. Failure Is Inevitable
Failures can be of a spiritual nature or a non-spiritual nature—both kinds are normal and unavoidable. God understands that we are human and we make mistakes. If you are a Christian, you have to know this to be true. And we should be glad that God understands that we are just created from dirt.
He knows that we are not god and not perfect. You should know that God, who desires a relationship with you, knows you aren’t perfect. He doesn’t expect you to be—just yet. God understands that we are going to fail sometimes and fail miserably and that it’s unavoidable.
We need to understand that too, so that we can deal with it in a constructive, not destructive way. Listen, Our View Of These Life Failures Determines If We Will Truly Survive Them.
Haunted by the jeering of his father, Jimmy Morris took one failed attempt at the Big Leagues and made that who he was. He made one try towards his dream and put it together with what his father said and decided that’s who he was.
He thought, “If I really was a great baseball player then it would come easily for me and failure would have been avoidable. I am just a failure.” He didn’t understand what the Bible says. Failure is unavoidable and normal.
2. Failure Is Something We Experience But It’s Not Who We Have To Be
When we make a bad decision or we make a dumb choice as a teenager, or our life as adults takes a different path than we intended, understand that It Doesn’t Define Us; It Defines Only A Moment, An Experience!
Who Are You? How do you answer that question? How you answer that question speaks volumes about how you perceive yourself, your self-image and your self-esteem. Do you answer it with the role you play in your life? Do you answer that question with “I’m a father, mother, grandparent, farmer, retired?”
Those are roles you play. That’s not who are you. Listen to this: Our Self Esteem Should Not Be Wrapped Up In What We Do But In Who We Are In God’s Eyes. God loves you. He says this about all of us—this is who we really are.
We are fully loved and accepted unconditionally. We are always forgiven when we ask. We are special and one of a kind. Failure is not who we are. God never sees us that way.
3. Failure Is Not An Enemy
Some of us are so afraid of what people may say if we fail that we don’t take any risks. Failure is treated as if it was cancer. Failure is not the enemy, though often we think it is an enemy to faith. If You Are Afraid Of Failing, You Will Achieve Small Things, But You Will Never Achieve Anything That’s Really Important.
(Repeat that to yourself! Say this out loud: If I Am Afraid Of Failing, I Will Achieve Small Things, But I Will Never Achieve Anything That’s Really Important)
You will achieve some things that are easy but you’ll never achieve the passions in your heart that you really could have achieved if you had taken the risk. The bottom line is this: Fear Of Failure Creates Inaction. It has a name: Atychiphobia. It’s living under the persistent fear of failing.
It paralyzes people and keeps them from reaching their God-given aspirations and goals. It keeps them from moving on after the invasion of defeat has paralyzed them. They don’t move on because they don’t want to do it anyone.
The question for those of us who are Christians should be, “What Is God Asking Me To Do?” Even those who haven’t crossed the line of faith know something is bubbling up inside of them.
We know what the Creator has put inside of us, what really moves us and makes us different. We should want that and we should know that failure will come as an opportunity to learn and to grow. Anything that helps us grow is NOT an enemy.
4. Failure Is Not Final Unless You Give Up
God doesn’t care how many marriages you’ve been though, how many times you’ve done this or that. That simply does not matter. You are not a failure. You may have failed, yes, but You Are Not A Failure Until You Give Up. You can move on. You can keep your eyes on your dream.
You understand that God loves you unconditionally so that you can take responsibility for your actions and then continue to press on. And Jimmy Morris? He made a promise to that high school team if they made it to the District Playoffs, he would try out for a major league team. That group of players, known as losers, not only made it to the playoffs, they won!
In 1999 at the age of 35, Jimmy made his Major League début for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays striking out Royce Clayton. OK, so his major league career did not last long, but how many 35 year old rookies have played in MLB? He said, “It’s amazing what you can achieve when you don’t quit.”
Do you doubt these 4 truths? Maybe you’re thinking, “Preacher, you don’t know how bad I’ve failed.” Listen, on the Cross, people looked at Jesus and thought he had been defeated and that it was over. Even those closest to Him had those thoughts.
But Jesus’ death on that Cross had a purpose. And that Cross was not final. Jesus knew if He laid down His life for us that there would be a Resurrection.
If Someone Wrote A Book On Your Life, The Most Important Chapter Would Be The Last Chapter. Would it reveal the spirit of determination? Or would it reveal the spirit of failure, of quitting?
It Is Not About Who You Have Been, And Not So Much About Who You Are Right Now. It Is About Who You Are Becoming. The only way, the only way, the only way, we can push on through life is with a connection to God. That happens only by faith, by saying a definite YES to Jesus.
- When you believe that failure is fatal, it’s toxic to your soul, heart and mind. Jesus knows how to deal with what appears to be a failure. Remember the Cross did not have the last word. And Jesus knows how to deal with your failures.
- It’s a proven fact, that the fear of failure can become stronger than our motivation. It’s because the event of failing is mistakenly believed to be the final defining moment of our life. Remember Henry Ford’s words: Whether You Believe You Can Or You Can’t, You’re Right!