From reading the book, I have come to respect some of our former presidents more and others less. One of those I have come to respect more is George H.W. Bush.
Many people—including Bush himself—believed it would be a close race but that he would defeat Bill Clinton and be reelected for a second term in the 1992 election. They counted on Bush’s experience and Clinton’s youth and inexperience to help them carry the day. It was, however, not to be.
Bush took the defeat very hard and stayed up well past midnight on the night the results came in. After writing in his diary about how painful the defeat was, he wrote these words: “Now to bed, prepared to face tomorrow: Be strong, be kind, be generous of spirit, be understanding, and let people know how grateful you are. Don’t get even. Comfort the ones I’ve hurt and let down, say your prayers and ask for God’s understanding and strength. Finish with a smile and some gusto and do what’s right and finish strong” (p. 412).
Some people don’t know how to either win or lose. President Bush knew how to do both. He would win with grace and lose with dignity. What an example of a true gentleman.
Bush went on to serve his country for some 25 years following his 1992 defeat and died in 2018 at the age of 94. His was a life well lived.
On our journey, we will not win every battle. We will not be victorious in every contest. We will lose sometimes, and it will be painful. How we lose, however, tells much about us. It reveals our true heart. It shows our strength or weakness of character. It demonstrates our pride or our humility.
Defeat can be a painful teacher, but its lessons can be helpful to us going forward.
Paul had some good advice for dealing with this very matter in Philippians 3:13-14: “... this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Let’s learn from the losses of the past. Let’s lay them aside and refuse to let them define us. Then, let’s look to the future and press on toward our ultimate goal, heaven.