The next morning the Israelites got up and pitched camp near Gibeah. The Israelites went out to fight the Benjamites and took up battle positions against them at Gibeah. The Benjamites came out of Gibeah and cut down twenty-two thousand Israelites on the battlefield that day. But the Israelites encouraged one another and again took up their positions where they had stationed themselves the first day. The Israelites went up and wept before the LORD until evening, and they inquired of the LORD. They said, “Shall we go up again to fight against the Benjamites, our fellow Israelites?”The LORD answered, “Go up against them.”
Then the Israelites drew near to Benjamin the second day. This time, when the Benjamites came out from Gibeah to oppose them, they cut down another eighteen thousand Israelites, all of them armed with swords.
Then all the Israelites, the whole army, went up to Bethel, and there they sat weeping before the LORD. They fasted that day until evening and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the LORD. And the Israelites inquired of the LORD. (In those days the ark of the covenant of God was there, with Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, ministering before it.) They asked, “Shall we go up again to fight against the Benjamites, our fellow Israelites, or not?”
The LORD responded, “Go, for tomorrow I will give them into your hands.”
Then Israel set an ambush around Gibeah.
Two lost battles, so many dead and all for a good cause. Yet, they pray, fast and seek God if they should still fight? What encourages me so much is not that the Israelites eventually win, but that they are willing to keep fighting even after great loss. God rewards their perseverance for justice and tells them they will win the final battle.
Could God ask me to fight losing battles at times to teach me how to win the war? I asked myself this question many times in the beginning of our work. Maybe my definition of victory looked different than God’s definition. After all, I have seen that God is about the journey more than the destination and every battle has contained a powerful lesson. Whether we win or lose a battle, I know we will win the war and it is through that confidence in God that I am learning not to fear losing sometimes.