When we choose to follow God, life ain’t always a bed of roses. I’m sure you’ve experienced this. Challenges still come our way. People we love get sick and die. Certainly there are times where we experience illness, pain, broken relationships, terrible defeats. It’s nothing new.
In our first reading today from 1 Samuel 4, the Israelite army is badly beaten by the Philistines. The children of Israel ask, “Why has the LORD permitted us to be defeated today by the Philistines?” They then go fetch the ark of the LORD and bring it into battle with them, obviously thinking that this would give them victory. It didn’t. In fact, the Philistines captured the ark, killed thirty thousand men and killed Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas.
There’s an age old question: why do bad things happen to good people? The Israelites were probably thinking that very thought. Now, I don’t pretend to know the mind of God, but I think one of the reasons why God allows us to experience defeat is to teach us lessons. Humility is always a big one for me. We can complain and whine when adversity comes our way. Truth be told, that’s probably the natural reaction. Or we can ask God not why he allowed us to be defeated, but what he wishes us to learn from our defeat.
Father, we’re sorry for the times we whine and complain and question you when we experience defeat. Help us to use all that happens to us, positive and negative, as a learning experience. Amen.