I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

The Long Defeat

Originally written 12/18/09

Long defeat...I became familiar with this phrase when I heard a song by Sara Groves called The Long Defeat. I thought it was an odd phrase. I looked it up on Google.

The Long Defeat is a phrase denoting an apparently impossible but noble battle. 

A book I had heard of but have not yet read called Mountain beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder speaks of this Long Defeat in relation to an experience Dr. Paul Farmer had in Haiti as a medical doctor. He fought continually under hopeless circumstances only to see glimpses of victory but the battle of the poor and sick had yet to be won. He continued on despite the apparent losing battle.

Here is a quote I found from the book…

I have fought the long defeat and brought other people on to fight the long defeat, and I’m not going to stop because we keep losing. Now I actually think sometimes we may win. I don’t dislike victory.... We want to be on the winning team, but at the risk of turning our backs on the losers, no, it’s not worth it. So you fight the long defeat.

After hearing the song and searching the meaning of the phrase I realized how much in our world is a Long Defeat for us. I see such need in the world spiritually and physically and it can be so overwhelming knowing that in my lifetime I can’t WIN. Here are just a few examples (throughout the world): hunger, orphans, slavery, friends and family who don’t know Christ.

Here is what the song and the book focused on and it is what we need to focus on too~

The Long Defeat...While this may sound defeatist, when used in this way, the term implies to those who use it that since the battle appears hopeless, any progress, or even a single life saved, can be viewed as a victory. (Wikipedia)

"I can't just fight when I think I'll win." Sara Groves

As followers of Christ, we must continue to fight in the battle and hold on to the truth that Christ is the one who tells us to fight.
Many times throughout the New Testament (1 & 2 Timothy, James and Philippians) we are told to press on and persevere. This world is in such need (spiritually and physically) and we are called to share with those who are weary, lost and feel hopeless. It is our responsibility. It is the least we can do because we were once hopeless, hungry orphaned slaves. Let's not forget that Christ never turns His back on the losers.

Note: The phrase was also used in the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. He also described it along with history itself. He saw history as a long defeat with glimpses of victory in sight.