Learning to lose gracefully is one of our earliest and hardest lessons. As kids, when we lost at Sorry! or Chutes and Ladders, we may have wanted to flip the board in a rage. Maybe sometimes we did! Growing a little older, we had to learn to say “good game” to sports teams that beat us. And as we have matured as Christians, we have grappled with what Paul said – “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound….I can do all things through him who strengthens me,” Phil. 4:12-13.
We definitely need that strength now. Life seems to resemble a strange board game where all the players are losing simultaneously. Can you think of one clear winner in the current coronavirus scenario? Our lives feel like some combination of cut off, cancelled, scrambled, imperiled, pent up, anxious, or angry. In Paul’s words, we’ve been brought low. But notice that Paul says he knows how to be brought low. He does not strain to abound again as quickly as possible, but learns how to exist in a state of loss, and yet be strong through Christ.
How can we draw strength from Christ as we go through the current loss? First, accept it as coming from him. He governs all things for the benefit of the church, Eph. 1:22. He does good work among us even when it seems like we have all drawn the “Go to Jail” card. Second, be humbled by it. Every evil reminds us that we’re living in a fallen world. COVID-19 only hints at the deadly sickness of rebellion against God that we carry by nature, Rom. 3:23. The virus calls to mind how we need Christ and the ongoing forgiveness that he provides. Third, take comfort in Jesus’ compassion. Christ healed “every disease and every affliction among the people” during his ministry, Matt. 4:23. He did it to show us that he cares about our illnesses. More than that, he loves us enough to pardon our sins and heal us down to the very root of our problem by overcoming our alienation from God. Fourth, rejoice at what is coming. Our Lord already triumphed over sin and death at the resurrection, and he is coming to share his victory with us when he establishes his kingdom. God assures us that when we have finished our course, he will crown us and wipe away every tear, 1 Tim. 4:8; Rev. 7:17.
So we lose gracefully by trusting Christ and rejoicing in him. This hope helps us not to lose heart or lash out at others amid the shutdown stress. We can even become beacons of grace and good humor as we learn what it means to be brought low, but strengthened in Christ. For those in Christ, every loss is temporary. The win is eternal.
Yours in him,