I know. I know. Many reading this are in the state of Minnesota and have no desire to talk about painful losses right now. This past Sunday the Vikings lost in one of the more painful ways that I’ve seen in recent sports memory. Believe me when I say, I understand. Nearly the exact same thing happened 2 years ago — same guy, same ridiculous mistake — only that time it was my team. It stung. In fact, it still stings a little when I think about what could have been.
It got me thinking more about “losses” in this life and how we cope with them. We often like to look at this world as though it’s sort of a big game. And if that’s the case, there has to be winners and losers. In fact, we look at it so much like that that we may even be tempted to label people as real “losers”. A flaw in this logic arises, however, when we realize that there isn’t some massive scoreboard floating around to help us figure out who indeed is “winning” at life and who is “losing”. To a certain extent, it depends on your definitions. Some might say that the the one with the largest bank account is winning or the one with the most impressive career, the one with the most attractive spouse or the one with the best-behaved and most accomplished kids, the one who lives the longest life or the one who lives the fullest life. Who determines what winning in life really is?
Much of our happiness, satisfaction, and contentment in life is determined by that abstract feeling of whether we perceive ourselves in good shape or not, i.e. whether we’re winning or losing. Universally we’d agree it’s important then. But again, how do we determine whether or not we indeed we are victorious in life?
In the great “Resurrection Chapter” of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul writes “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.“ (1 Cor. 15:55-57). In any game, you cannot really tell who the winner is until the final whistle is blown. Although life is significantly more important than a game, that principle remains the same. No matter how we may define “win” in this lifetime, when death comes, we discover who truly has the victory and who does not. It’s as simple as Paul writes — whoever believes in Jesus holds the trophy that Jesus won through his victory on the cross. No one who witnessed Jesus’ body hanging there lifelessly during his crucifixion would have defined that as a win — but it was. It meant eternal paradise for all who see Jesus as God’s Son and our Savior. And in recognizing that win, we learn that mankind’s definition of “win” (wealth, sex, fame, etc.) is probably more flawed than we could imagine.
Clearly this information about “winning” helps us eternally, but the icing on the heaven cake is that it undoubtedly helps us in this life as well. If I have the knowledge that when the whistle blows I’m guaranteed victory, will I get as upset during the game about a fumble (e.g. job loss) or an interception (e.g. home foreclosure) or a sack (e.g. illness)? It doesn’t mean I have to like these things. It doesn’t mean these things won’t sting. But it does mean that I can keep plugging through life with all the confidence of a “winner”.
Christians are happiest when they don’t let the world dictate to them what a “win” is, when they understand that they already have the victory in Jesus. Any professional football player will tell you that the Super Bowl ring is why they play the game. When we’re in focus, we realize the certainty of the crown of eternal life is what makes life worth living.