© by Todd A. Sinelli

Triumph & Disaster

Perspective. Wouldn’t it be great to have the right perspective on things? Many times in life we are challenged to develop a new perspective or to change our perspective. A new vantage point can open our mind’s eye and allow us to see things differently.

I was captivated the other day as I read through Rudyard Kiplings poem entitled “If.” He writes:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master;
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

How many times have we met “Mr. Triumph”? Or can you think of the last time you were introduced to “Mr. Disaster”? How do we know which is which? Sometimes a triumph turns into a disaster and a disaster into a triump. Life seems to be full of high highs and low lows; however, sooner or later we realize that there is something to be learned from all situations.

I’ll confess that I am intrigued by TV shows like “Joe Millionaire.” This showed aired over five years ago and featured a 24 year-old cowboy named David Smith who earns about $11,000 a year. The women on the show believe that he is worth $50 million. The show will culminate with David selecting one girl to be with. However, the catch is that he will then tell her that he is not what she thinks he is. He is a simple cowboy that earns ~$11k a year and not a mega wealthy young man.

The question I keep asking is, “Will David meet with Triumph or Disaster at this point?” In the story of Mefistofele, the character Faust is tempted by the Devil to trade his soul for the trappings of this world. It is a wager between God and Satan for the soul of this man. The bet is that Mefistofele can lead Dr. Faust into damnation by enticing him with the trappings of this world. Dr. Faust experiences wild orgies and the praise of people. His life began with a deep desire to search for “knowledge and good.” He kept true to this course for most of his life. Although, there were many moments were he was sidetracked and engaged in wild debauchery.

As an old man, Dr. Faust reflects on the many experiences of life. He realizes that none of them were so powerful that he wanted time to stop so he could relish those moments. He experienced much in life but came to the realization that reality has been full of grief and that the ideals in life are illusory. Wealth, women, and wild living are full of emptiness instead of fulfillment. He then dreams of a place secure in wisdom and justice. It is a place where people praise the Lord of all creation. With that thought, he grabs his Bible and kneels to repent for his wayward ventures. He then falls dead and the story ends with angels singing as he is ushered to a true paradise with Jesus as Lord. Dr. Faust began his life with a search for knowledge and good. By God’s grace, the Lord answered that prayer toward the end of his life after he was shown the emptiness of seeking things outside of God’s will.

I wonder whether David Smith will come to the realization that life outside of God’s will is empty. I wonder whether he will realize that “honesty is the best policy” and that a relationship built on lies and deceit has no secure foundation. Maybe he will meet with Triumph in the sense that he realizes the words William Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “This above all things: to thine own self be true” (Hamlet , 3.1.81). Not being truthful and honest carries many consequences. Hopefully, David Smith will realize the folly of his ways and see that fame, fortune, and feminine fantasies will never satisfy the soul, nor will they bring him honor or respect among people of character.

Perhaps, David Smith will meet with Disaster and the women that he has deceived will demand justice for this trickery. If so, the wrath of a deceived women is not a pretty sight. Just ask John Bobbitt.

Perspective. I really believe there is no proper perspective outside of the Bible. God’s word tells us that “charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a women who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30). Jesus said He is “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6) and that He came so that we would “have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

The world tells us that success is built on fame, fortune, and fulfillment of our fantasies. The Bible tells us that success is built on living a righteous life through obeying Jesus. Disaster from a worldly sense is losing fame, fortune, or family. Disaster from a biblical sense is being left to your own desires and not knowing that true fulfillment can only be attained by obeying God in all things.

Perspective. Wouldn’t it be great to have the right perspective on things? Many times in life we are challenged to develop a new perspective or to change our perspective. A new vantage point can open our mind’s eye and allow us to see things differently. I challenge you today to live the life of true fulfillment by focusing on a life that is pleasing to God and not simply pleasing to the flesh. Read the Bible. Don’t merely listen to the words but do what it says. Your life will be changed and you will develop a new perspective.

The stories of Dr. Faust, David Smith, and many others will be repeated throughout history. Learn from these examples and know that the road to destruction is broad and wide while the road to everlasting life is straight and narrow. Do not be deceived by the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, or the desires of other things (Mark 4:19). The world and its desires fade away but the man that does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:17). Now, that is perspective for Triumph and Disaster.