What do you put your hope in? What do you have faith in? What do you believe in? What thing, if you have it, puts your life in order? What thing, if you were to lose it, would cause your life to unravel and deconstruct? The Israelites thought they had a King. They thought they had a savior who would protect and bless them. Then, abruptly, that King was taken from them. The absence of this King left a void that the Israelites were forced to look into.
The loss of something we love causes us to ask questions. We ask ourselves, “Why is this loss so painful?” “Why do I miss it so much?” “Why do I feel incapable of moving on?” “What will I do without it?”
When we face loss, our most honest and sincere feelings are revealed. When seeking answers to our reaction we often find uncomfortable truths: that our love for what we lost was unnaturally great and what we loved was naturally finite.
To know God as HE is and to love Him for who He is we must lose something. We must take the thing we treasure the most and let it go. We must begin to see the things in our lives in their natural order. Our love for people is naturally beautiful, but our faith in them is destructively irrational. We love things, but a love for a mere thing that cannot love us in return is illogically unreasonable.
But ultimately, what we must lose is neither a person nor a thing. We must understand that the love of self is the greatest opponent to the love of God in our lives. The truth is that without Jesus Christ we are lost, sheep without a shepherd. We will find temporary success, but only a success that is fleeting and painful to lose. In Jesus Christ there is no loss, except for the loss of the one thing that could never truly give you anything in the first place. In Jesus Christ we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and in Jesus Christ we are no longer investing in a losing battle. With Jesus Christ, the loss of our self is the painful first step to a life where our treasure is Christ, and to know Him is gain. With Jesus Christ we have a King that has already won the victory. Through faith in His life, death and resurrection, that same victory is ours and we can and will overcome.
10 Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell dead on Mount Gilboa.2 The Philistines were in hot pursuit of Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua.3 The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him.
4 Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and abuse me.” But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it.5 When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died.6 So Saul and his three sons died, and all his house died together. 7 When all the Israelites in the valley saw that the army had fled and that Saul and his sons had died, they abandoned their towns and fled. And the Philistines came and occupied them. 8 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his sons fallen on Mount Gilboa.9 They stripped him and took his head and his armor, and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news among their idols and their people.10 They put his armor in the temple of their gods and hung up his head in the temple of Dagon. 11 When all the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul,12 all their valiant men went and took the bodies of Saul and his sons and brought them to Jabesh. Then they buried their bones under the great tree in Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.
13 Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance,14 and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.
Daily we are faced with situations we believe should go in a different direction than they are going. Daily we are faced with people who do not believe or do what we feel they should. We love to be right and we love to prove others wrong. This pride can be an empowering attribute, spawning great achievement, but it also possesses potentially destructive qualities. With each passing day we face opportunities to either isolate ourselves as a result of our self-pride, or to engage in community in humility. We hold onto pride harder than almost anything else. We go to great lengths to remain right in our own minds, even if facts may prove otherwise. The desire to be right and stay right has the ability to destroy everything good in our lives. It has the ability to destroy our families. It has the ability to destroy our occupations. It has the ability to destroy our very selves. It breeds unfaithfulness to every other thing, even what once was most important. Like being under a spell, pride effectively, powerfully convinces us that all of the destruction it brings is worth the cost of not losing one ounce of it. Pride will never bring and maintain life. Pride, in the long or short term, will ultimately take what you held dear and will leave you with only one thing to be proud of: that you stayed proud.