Winning and Losing
‘“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.’ Isaiah 55:8
Competition is embedded in many of the things that we do in this life and even the least competitive of us will have tasted the exhilarating feeling of winning and the gutting sting of losing. We grow up taking part in sports days, academic tests and a whole variety of other ways to compete such as fancy dress, art or Easter egg decorating competitions! Sometimes, we go on to compete locally, nationally and even at international levels in a particular talent or field through pursuits or our careers. We also engage in competitions as supporters. Maybe of a sports team or person, or a political leader or party or just a friend or family member that we are supporting to successfully secure a particular job, a home or a future spouse!
It occurred to me recently, (whilst experiencing victory and defeat in a series of connect four games with my two sons!) as I reflected back on my personal wins and losses that I am so grateful for the times I have lost. Whilst the wins have left a glow of satisfaction and the encouragement of winning has increased my confidence, the losses have shaped me greatly, deepened my maturity and most importantly of all, made me more dependant on God.
Losing has often been a horrible experience. I remember the on-the-spot failure of not making it through an audition for a dance school I had set my heart on. I failed my driving test the first time, I failed job interviews, houses I was convinced would become our home were snapped up by others and I can’t even count the number of times I have lost at backgammon with my lifelong rival!
Each loss had its own particular sting and recovery time was often needed, but I am now so grateful for each and every one of them. Those losses have not stopped me from setting my heart on new things and being determined to win them. I’ve continued to ‘run with perseverance the race marked out for us’ as we are encouraged to do in Hebrews 12:1. But I have become less self-reliant and more open to partnering with God. My prayers have changed from ‘I really want this, please make it so’ to ‘I think I want this, your will be done’. I have become more open to God's way of doing things and I’ve begun to recognise the difference between the things I set my heart on and the things that God has put within my heart. In Isaiah 55:8 God simply states ‘my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways’ and I need to be reminded of this time and again.
I’m beginning to learn that the things that God puts in my heart rarely unfold the way I think they would. As I look back on the outcomes of each situation, and how God's plan worked out, my faith increases a little more and I begin to trust more in his ways, not mine. I’m believing God when He says in Isaiah 55:9 that’ as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’
So if you have lost at something recently and disappointment or confusion is weighing you down, I want to encourage you that losing is something to celebrate! There is much more to learn from our losses than our wins, don’t let discouragement and failure hold you back for long. Press into God, ask Him to show you the desires of the heart and trust Him to show you the steps to take to bring them into being in your life, in His way and His timing. I promise He will.
Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, your ways are much higher than ours, yet we often feel we know better than you. We ask you to meet us in our disappointment and confusion and lead us on. Help us to trust you, open our hearts to your plans and give us the wisdom and patience to wait for your timing. Amen