When Death and the Devil Appear to Win the Day (What We Do to Hold On)

*For happy news and a baby picture, scroll to the end of this post.

None of us likes to lose – neither to opponents nor to hardship nor to death.

There’s no glory in failure, in the dissolution of dreams, in defeat.

And while we put on brave faces for the world or for the general community, behind close doors, disappointments, setbacks, and losses send us to our rooms to pull the covers over our heads and wonder why we even tried.

And yet, the Bible is full of martyrs, losers, and people of God who failed their way to their purpose.

In fact, many of their stories wouldn’t likely have been told if it were up to human writers. God inspired Biblical authors to include the warts and warps and wayward paths of every person He chose to use.

I believe He did that for us.

You see, God is not as in love with success as we are. He’s not looking for people who know how to succeed, to never make a mistake, to cheat death. What God values is faithfulness, perseverance, and eyes focused on Jesus at every turn.

I lose sight of that in my own life. I’m easily disheartened. When roadblocks appear or paths I’ve taken don’t pan out, I despair. There’s a lot of quit in me. And I seek reward too early in the process.

One of my grandsons has fallen behind in his schoolwork and has recently made efforts, under duress, at catching up. When he was instructed to work on his assignments rather than watch the family movie, he opined, “I’ve been working so hard and you haven’t rewarded me for a long time!”

Of course, the adults responded properly to his drama, but it reminded me of, well, me. So often his words appear in my prayers and God used my grandson’s immaturity to bring my own heart back online.

My grandson has yet to appreciate that learning and studying is its own reward. His youth demands immediate reward and chafes against delayed gratification. To my shame, I am wont to forget that following Jesus is its own reward and my portion in life is Him – setbacks bring me home to that life-giving truth.

Jesus chides His disciples in Luke 17:7-10 by comparing them to a person who has servants. Does the owner of the home, at days’ end, invite the servants to sit and eat? No, they must complete their responsibilities first, and even then, they’ve only done what was their duty.

Of course, this conversation happens on their way to Jerusalem. Jesus has done many amazing works, taught the truth to great crowds, and demonstrated in many ways that He is the Messiah. And yet, the rest of His work lay further down the road on a wooden cross that wouldn’t hint even a little of success. His reward rested on the other side of suffering and death. He wouldn’t look like much of a savior hanging on a tree, but that wouldn’t change the truth.

While our country has been embroiled (continues to be embroiled) in the presidential race, behind closed doors, hundreds of scientists have been failing their way to success.

In the search for a cure for this virus, they set out on a path they knew would reap them absolutely no glory until the task was complete. There’s no reward for the dozens, maybe hundreds, of trials that fail but that provide one small clue closer to the cure.

And yet we rely on them to refuse to let failure deter them from their work. We count on them not quitting at the hundredth failed trial. Some of our lives may depend on them viewing no wrong turn as a waste but instead, just a part of the work they’re called to do to fulfill their purpose. We don’t even want them to sleep until their work is done.

As Christians, this is the mindset we need.

God wastes nothing. Not a moment of our lives will be for naught if we keep our eyes on Jesus. He promises to fulfill His purpose for us, to complete His work in us, and God keeps His promises.

There will be failures. Losses. Broken dreams. Wrong turns. Wayward paths.

It’s heartbreaking when death and the devil appear to win the day. But when that happens, we must hold on. We must remember that God is not done. We must declare that the final word belongs to Him who IS the Word.

We mustn’t seek reward too early. Satan whispers into our losses, into our low times, that we are fools. He taunts us to wonder where our God is now. He tempts us to lose heart and he doesn’t mind hitting us when we’re down.

God’s Word is our weapon, and He is our fortress and strength. What appears to be death and defeat on this side of glory may be the very path God has chosen to resurrect His purpose for His people.

This post isn’t for people processing an election or the death of a beloved celebrity, it’s for those of us who are questioning the purpose and path of our own lives on any given day.

We live in a world battered and weary from the results of the fall, but the Kingdom of God is in our midst. We must dwell in the grace provided by Christ through suffering and death. We must embed in the hope His resurrection provides us now until He comes. Not only for our sakes, but for the next generation.

And, until our work is done, we must not give up.

(Like many of you, I am saddened at the loss of Alex Trebek, who brought joy to so many of our lives for decades. My prayers are also with Tim Challies and his family as they mourn the sudden death of their 20-year-old son. And I continue to pray for our country. Allow me, however, to share the joy of our newest grandson born 11/5/2020 – Samuel Chief Bennett Kreyssig. (Samuel for his father’s maternal grandfather, Chief in honor of my father who was a fire chief for over 51 years, Bennett because they like it and it’s Dutch tradition to have two middle names.) All are well and we are in love. Praise God who brings joy in the midst of loss and conflict.

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8 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Becky says:

    You always seem to have just the words that I need to hear. Thank you for sharing your gift with us.

  2. Maureen Miller says:

    Thank you so much for this good word, Lori! My husband and I read it together and were encouraged. Blessings!

  3. Nico van der Merwe says:

    Great encouragement – thank you!

  4. Amanda Snyder says:

    CONGRATULATIONS LORI & STAN! It is so great to hear of your joyous occasion for the birth of your Grandson. I have a feeling he will chose to be called “Chief” in pre-teen years. Nelson & I are great grand parents of an energetic 2yr old Diana on Nov 22. Thank You for this particular “When Death & the Devil Appear…” writing. I have wished to send a letter of THANK YOU to President & Melania Trump. I think I’ve been shown a way. A THANK YOU letter! My cancer has not returned, the bones (with Prolia) are up osteopenia level, I had laser treatment on rt. eye – clear sight has been returned. Nelson is so healthy we Thank Our LORD & SAVIOR every day! He does “run out of steam” after work over an hour with hard work. He remarked 2 weeks ago “I guess I’m 85 after all.” What a HOOT! CONGRATULATIONS OF YOUR book “ART OF HARD CONVERSATIONS.” WITH CHRIST’S LOVE, Amanda & Nelson I John 4:19 “We love because HE first loved us.” [11/09/2020

  5. Rob McCullough says:

    Lori, you dug deep for this one and we both appreciate and are blessed by your honesty before the Lord. Know that many walk alongside you on the Lords Path before us.

  6. carla femat says:

    Love the pics, and you will love being a Grandma. Thanks for encouraging words. I was reading Philippines today about working out our salvation and how he will give us the desire to do the things to complete His will in our lives. WE just have to want to want it. Such a good good God to know our hearts like that. He will give us the ability to shine in the darkness for Him. The world needs to see that light, now.

  7. Deborah Kreyssig says:

    Amen to all Lori and, yes, we are in love!

  8. Barbara J. Welch says:

    Thank you for helping us see things from God’s perspective. Our faith is always made stronger through our trials and tribulations. Our focus should always be that He will carry us through and ALL things work together for good to those who are called according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28) Thanks for opening our eyes to the way God works in this fallen world. He is still on the throne and is always in control. Praise the LORD!!
    Barb Welch