Victory after defeat

This is a translation of a scriptural meditation from the Russian book, “Day by Day”. It seems appropriate for our coronavirus times:

Scripture: “They went and set a guard at the tomb, and put a seal on the stone” (Matt: 27, 66)


“There are times that are dark and difficult, when it seems that the power of darkness is triumphant and that victory seems to be on the side of the enemies of Christ. The Lord permits the crucifixion of the Son of God and laying Him in the grave, and the grave itself seems to close over Him forever – we see only a large stone and the seal over the grave. The Apostles grieve at the sight.

"It also often seems to us that our faith is vilified and defeated…the voice of God is not heard, we do not perceive it amid the lawlessness taking place; the light is enveloped by a thick darkness, the brute force of the enemy conquers justice and truth. Despondent, with pain in their hearts, Christ’s Apostles are at a loss – why did their Teacher let Himself be covered with the stone over His grave?

"Today – defeat, tomorrow – victory; and if in the history of nations, because of mankind’s many sins, it often seems to us that Christ is defeated more often than He is victorious, let us be confident that after many years of the power of darkness there will come the complete victory of Jesus, crowned with glory, before Whom will bow “every knee in heaven, on the earth and under the earth (Phil: 2, 10).

“Each one of us, repeating daily the words “Thy Kingdom come”, can hasten the coming of that time, by accepting the dominion of Christ in our hearts and multiplying the number of those who, in the midst of the rule of sin and flesh, bow down with their entire being and life before Jesus Christ.”

The amazing thing about this meditation is that the book containing it was published in Russia in 1908, before World War I and the coming Russian Revolution. There was, of course, the “first” Russian revolution of 1905, and that might well have created the atmosphere in which this meditation was written. But little did the author know what greater suffering was in store for the country in the coming years. But now, about 35 years after Gorbachev’s “revolution”, beginning in 1985, Russia is experiencing a great religious revival. One example is that about 40,000 new churches have been built or restored, and there is complete freedom of religious worship and information (although problems sometimes do arise with certain Protestant churches, such as the Christian Scientists).

This topic also brings to mind Lewis’s essay, “The World’s Last Night”. This is a paragraph from that essay:

“In ‘King Lear’ (III:vii) there is a man who is such a minor character that Shakespeare has not given him even a name: he is merely ‘First Servant.’ All the characters around him – Regan, Cornwall, and Edmund – have fine long-term plans. They think they know how the story is going to end, and they are quite wrong. The servant has no such delusions. He has no notion how the play is going to go. But he understands the present scene. He sees an abomination (the blinding of old Gloucester) taking place. He will not stand it. His sword is out and pointed at his master’s breast in a moment: then Regan stabs him dead from behind. That is his whole part: eight lines all told. But if it were real life and not a play, that is the part it would be best to have acted.”

Lewis is writing, of course, about speculations about the end of the world. But I think these thoughts (and those of the above meditation) apply equally well to our present coronavirus situation, i.e. that the best thing we can do is to be the best people, spiritually, we can be. This, of course, is true at any time of our lives, for in the end, coronavirus or not, the only thing that will matter will be how we have acted in our lives.


“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)