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10. The Long Defeat

Tell Me What You Know
by Sara Groves


I have joined the long defeat
that falling set in motion
all my strength and energy
are raindrops in the ocean

so conditioned for the win
to share in victor's stories
but in the place of ambition's din
I've heard of other glories

I pray for an idea
and a way I cannot see
It's too heavy to carry
and impossible to leave

I can't just fight when I think I'll win
that's the end of all belief
and nothing has provoked it more
than a possible defeat

I pray for an idea
and a way I cannot see
It's too heavy to carry
and impossible to leave

We walk a while we sit and rest
we lay it on the altar
I won't pretend to know what's next
but what I have I've offered

I pray for a vision
and a way I cannot see
It's too heavy to carry
and impossible to leave

I pray for inspiration
and a way I cannot see
It's too heavy to carry
and impossible to leave

Behind the Song:
"In a culture that is enamored with success, the idea of a long defeat is difficult to communicate. I first read the phrase in Mountains Beyond Mountains, a biography of Dr. Paul Farmer who works to stem the tide of AIDS and Tuberculosis in Haiti. At one point, Dr. Farmer walks for a day to visit one patient. His traveling companion asks him if this is the best use of time in light of all of the people he has to treat. Dr. Farmer replies, “...I have fought the long defeat... and I’m not going to stop because we keep losing... We want to be on the winning team, but at the risk of turning our backs on the losers, no, it’s not worth it.” This attitude is at the heart of our favorite stories. We cheer for Luke Skywalker, not because it looks like he is going to win, but because in spite of the obvious impending doom, he cannot do anything but fight. He fights because to not fight is to give into darkness. Frodo, an unlikely hobbit, enters into the fight of a lifetime, not to win, but because once he is commissioned, he can do nothing else but see this journey through to the end. In the face of overwhelming numbers, IJM staff work tirelessly to free one person at a time. Mother Teresa took on the dying in Calcutta by picking up one person at a time. Christ, in the face of great expectations to be King, took the path of defeat to save truly lost individuals like myself, who had nothing to offer. “I can’t just fight when I think I’ll win, that’s the end of all belief.”" - Sara Groves




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