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Handling Dejection

November 14, 2022
By Hal Brady
All of us have felt defeated and dejected. More than once we’ve spread our wings only to have them clipped and disaster happen. Welcome to the human race! Nobody succeeds every time. 
Most of us are aware that the great baseball player Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs. But how many of us are aware that he struck out 1,330 times? And most of us are familiar with the success of the biblical character Joshua. He took over from Moses and led the children of Israel successfully into the Promised Land. But what about his defeat and dejection? 
The mantle of leadership had fallen upon Joshua’s shoulders now that Moses was dead. Joshua’s time had come. The children of Israel had crossed the Jordan River, and the first city they came to was Jericho. There they experienced a significant victory. So, the people celebrated and rejoiced at the goodness of God and their smashing triumph. And Joshua himself received personal congratulations all around. But the next city they were to come to was a smaller city, Ai. This looked easy compared to Jericho. No need to send the whole army there, just a company or two can take care of the situation. But tragically the Israelites suffered a terribly humiliating defeat. In the initial skirmish of the battle, they lost 36 men. Then they were routed and many of them were slain as they tried to flee for safety. 

Now, Joshua didn’t handle the situation well. He was defeated and dejected. He fell on the ground, and he, along with the elders, threw dust in the air. It was a sign of deep mourning, and that’s where God found him. However, God didn’t let Joshua continue wallowing in defeat and dejection. “Stand up!” God said. “Why have you fallen upon your face?” (Joshua 7:10). Then God told Joshua to search out the reason for his defeat and dejection and do something about it. 

So how can any of us handle our defeat and dejection? 

First, dejection is inevitable! Today, numbers of us are being victimized by what is called the success syndrome. The pressure upon Americans to succeed is enormous. Children, teenagers, and adults are all under unbelievable pressure. Winning is everything, and we view defeat, mistakes, or failure as the worst thing that can happen. Hear me now! If we start out in life to accomplish anything sooner or later, we are going to experience defeat and dejection. But there’s an old adage that’s true. It says, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Better to make the attempt!

Second, defeat or dejection doesn’t have to be fatal! An employee in a large corporation cost the company a million dollars. The man was called in to see the boss, and he fully expected to be fired. But his boss had a different approach. “Do you know the secret of making a million dollars?” asked the boss. “It’s making good decisions. And do you know the secret of making good decisions? It’s making bad decisions and learning from them. I’ve just invested a million dollars in you, so learn from your mistake.” In terms of defeat and dejection, there are two categories: people-learners and non-learners. When learners make a mistake, they are less likely to repeat it.

Third, we can dedicate the defeat or dejection to God! Several years back a man said, “I failed in my marriage. We both made a wholehearted effort. We sought counseling and help. We honestly did everything we could, but we failed. It’s over. But now I am just beginning to realize how very much I gained through that defeat. I learned maturity, wisdom, insight, understanding, compassion, and tolerance. I am so much richer because of my failure.” And then he said, “Would it be alright if I dedicated my failure to God?” 
Isn’t that what Paul did? His persecutions, his shipwreck, his disappointments, his thorn in the flesh-all were dedicated to God. You see, Paul knew that he could never find victory if he were burdened down in defeat and dejection. As God said to Joshua after the death of Moses, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you, not forsake you, only be strong and very courageous…” (Joshua 1:5,6).

And that’s also God’s wisdom for us! 
Dr. Hal Brady is a retired pastor who continues to present the Good News of Jesus Christ and offer encouragement in a fresh and vital way though Hal Brady Ministries (halbradyministries.com)

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