The passage of the present health care bill will be a catastrophic victory for President Obama. So argues Peggy Noonan in her most recent WSJ article as she analyzes the administration’s misjudgment of the public mood. Noonan also looks back at catastrophic victories for previous administrations and predicts that the Republicans risk a catastrophic victory in the 2010 elections.

Perhaps Noonan has inadvertently provided an explanation for why the church of Christ is often defeated, divided, and depleted? God is saving her from the risk of catastrophic victory – a victory which would result in long-term harm rather than health. In the Old Testament, God could have given Israel total victory. Instead He allowed hostile nations to remain as thorns in their sides to keep His people needy, humble, and looking to Christ through sacrifice (Judges 2:3-4). In the New Testament, God could have established perfect churches. Instead we find the Corinthians, the Galatians, the Thessalonians, etc, with all their problems and needs.

And perhaps this explains our personal defeats and disasters as well. Like Paul we are given thorns in our flesh lest we should be “exalted above measure” (2 Cor. 12:7). This thorn kept Paul needy and seeking Christ’s all-sufficient grace.

In other words, though the Devil can turn our victories into defeats, God can turn our defeats into victories.

Picture: 2009 © Chris Lamphear. Image from