A Most Exquisite Pain 

victorydefeat     “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Do you remember Jim McKay delivering this line on ABC’s Wide World of Sports? [https://youtu.be/P2AZH4FeGsc] For years millions watched video clips of both emotions as they played out in a variety of sports. Watching a skier spin out of control off the jump and crash into the ground below was always cringe worthy.

Can you know the full thrill of victory without knowing the agony of defeat in at least one part of life?

Victor Parachin tells a story about a man who was a politician and a member of the New York State Assembly. He left home following the birth of his first child thinking all was well. Later in the day he was called home to find his wife dying of unforeseen complications. He held her pleading for her life until he was told if he wanted to see his mother before she died he should come downstairs. She died at 3 a.m. and his wife at 2 p.m. the same day, Valentine’s Day 1884. His friends wondered if he would ever recover.

He did, in time, following a two-year retreat from politics to a ranch in the Dakota badlands. Eventually, he would marry again. Professionally, he would serve as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New York and President of the United States. His name was Theodore Roosevelt, a man whose zest for life became legendary following his crushing agony.

He was not the first to experience these twin emotions. Centuries earlier a man lived in the capitol of Israel among the wealthy, educated and political elites. Later he lived in prison after being whipped, on ships before they wrecked, and left for dead after stones were hurled at him. He experienced life as thrilling and agonizing before writing, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” His name was the apostle Paul.

Has your life experience been more about “the thrill of victory” or “the agony of defeat”? Do you wring the last ounce of joy from the good things that come your way or has the nearly endless stream of agonizing defeats beaten the life out of your living? We cannot always control what happens to us. We can, however, choose how we respond. Take the pain, disappointment, and despair from the past and let it magnify the experiences of victory, joy, and fulfillment when they come your way.

Remember this. Not Theodore Roosevelt, the Apostle Paul, or you will ever be abandoned by the living eternally loving Jesus Christ. Believe it. Live it. Know it. Share it.

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