William H. Curtis Ministries - 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Defeat: Finding the Power in Failure

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

We’ve all had our setbacks in life. We’ve all had times when it seemed, no matter which way we turned, God was saying “no.” “No,” at such times, can be the scariest word in the world. When we have our hearts set on something, the possibility it might not come—or might not come right when we want or need it—is terrifying and disheartening. We begin to think that God has turned away from us, that somehow, this one defeat ensures our lives will be failures, lived away from grace and success. 

But defeat is not the end of a road, and God hasn’t gone anywhere. Christ is still right there with you, waiting for you to rely upon Him. This is the Christ who delights “in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.” This is the Christ who knows you, knows what you want, and more importantly, knows what He wants for you. If He puts defeat in your way, He means it to be a sign, not a condemnation. He might say take a right, take a left, or take a U-turn, but He is certainly not saying “stop.” If we take just a rudimentary look through history, we’ll find that God often uses failure in this way: not to break us but to redirect us to the place where our true conquest can take place. 

Just consider some of the greatest figures in the Bible. Peter fell short in his faith but still founded the church. David suffered setbacks, even as he continued to make progress towards his purpose. He was exiled and on the run for years, hunted simply for being favored by God, but it all ended with him as king. 

And what about Jonah, who constantly ran from responsibility, who seemed constantly to be running towards defeat? When he finally gave in to the will of the Lord, when he finally stopped to listen to what he was being told, he found himself a profound prophet to Nineveh. 

This is the key to finding the power in defeat, to rising higher than ever before just when we are knocked down. If, in our low moments, we turn to God, He will raise us up. “My power is made perfect in weakness,” He tells us. His healing is at its best when we are broken, His ability to lift us is more perfect when we have fallen. 

That’s why God has created defeat in this life. Not only is it inevitable because of free will, it also serves the purpose of turning us back towards Him. What is the first thought that runs through your mind when you run across a setback in life? That first thought is always toward God, a calling out for help. 

“In my distress I called to the LORD,” says Psalm 18 in verse 6, “I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.”

If we give in to this impulse and return to God in our lowest moments, we set ourselves up to conquer any defeat we suffer. I’m not saying it will always be how we imagined it. Jonah wanted his life to go a different direction, but God had His heart set on making a prophet of this fearful man. David did not want to see the end of Saul and Jonathan, but that course was required to make David king. Peter did not want to see Christ die, but He had to so that Peter, and all of us, could be saved. 

Defeat shows us that the path we were taking up the mountain wasn’t quite right, that we needed more help from God to get up the steepest climbs. Defeat makes us prove we want the goal enough, and that we are humble enough to know Who is really allowing us to become conquerors. 

It is by defeat that we show we can regroup and return ourselves to God’s hands, to fulfill not just our purpose and ambitions, but His. No one has ever said it better than Paul: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”