Marti’s phone is trying to wake her up this morning with a song she has programmed as her alarm: “I’ve got a feeling/That tonight’s gonna be a good night/Tonight’s gonna be a good, good night…” I immediately reflect on the fact that this song is going to be true for only part of the country tonight. For lots of people, tonight’s gonna be a bad, bad night.
Someone is going to lose today, and it will be a big deal, because so much is at stake. By the time you read this, you may even know who it is. It may be you, depending on how much you care. We will all probably be losers at some point today. It’s inconceivable to think of anyone getting everything they wanted on their ballot, all the way down the line. It therefore matters not “if” we lose, but “how” we lose. A lot about the future of this country, in fact, will depend on how people lose today.
America has a history of behaving well on Election Day. That’s the way our government is supposed to operate. We’ve been at each other’s throats for months now, but in the end, there is an assumption that we all agree to support the winner because that is how our government works best. That would mean that winners don’t gloat, and losers don’t whine.
This time, however, we have been fighting so hard against each other, and we have been mean to each other for so long, and the schisms run so deep that it is hard to imagine us all deciding to climb on board the same train at the end of the day. My guess is that — whoever wins — the animosity that has built to a feverish pitch over these last few months will not go away for a long time, if at all, and that is not good for this country. For this reason, I think we all need a good lesson in losing.
If you are a true follower of Christ and not just a political Christian, you have come to realize that losing is a big part of your spiritual growth. It is not that you realize that once in a while it’s not such a bad thing to lose because of what you get out of it. It’s not that at all. It’s that losing is a requirement for following Christ. “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25) What do you lose? You lose a lot more than the election. You lose control; you lose the props that held you up; you lose your easy assumptions; you lose your guard; you lose your security; you lose your crutches; you lose your excuses; you lose what you always thought about yourself … and the list is endless.
But in losing, you gain. You gain friendship with the lowly because you too are lowly, and you gain acceptance and forgiveness because of God’s grace and His grace alone, and a new identity in Christ.
Every day I experience a loss either in something that I thought I had overcome, or something I never realized I was doing because I carry around with me this “body of death” that the life of Christ might also be seen in me. Losses lead us to Christ.
Losing is winning if it turns you around
It all looks clearer when you’re close to the ground
If you know you’re lost, then you can be found
And you walk out — a winner
from “Losing is Winning” by John Fischer
True Christians need to set the pace on how to lose well, because it is our losses that are our true gains. Embrace your losses; identify and share compassion with the losses of others; turn around and receive God’s grace for moving on with your life. And always identify with the lowly because you are lowly, too, so that we all know our gains are only because of His grace.
Every nine minutes the song goes off as Marti hits the snooze button again. The funny thing is that each time it goes off, the song gets shorter by a word or two because she is less asleep (or more awake, depending on how you look at it), and she gets to the snooze button faster. She’ll be up any minute now because she’s at, “I’ve got a …”
Following one who turns our losses into gains is a guarantee that whatever happens, even if we lose, it’s going to be a good, good night.