Bringing God the glory in defeat

Picture this: a team has worked the entire season to get to Nationals; they are prepared and more than capable of taking home the gold medal; but, they get knocked out in the semi final, losing to their biggest rival, and losing any chance of winning gold.

In devastating defeats, how can we as athletes bring glory to God?

We all know it is easier to bring glory in victory. When teams win or when athletes reach a personal best, there is so much to be thankful for: success, joy in sport, personal talents, team unity, the strength to push yourself and your team to competing at the highest level, and the satisfaction of seeing hard work pay off.

Plus, in victory, athletes often openly express their gratification to God, giving Him the glory for their win. How many times have we seen a baseball player hitting a game-winning home run and pointing to the sky as he rounds the bases, a football player catching a 50 yard pass, scoring the game winning touchdown and crossing himself in the end zone, or a track athlete collapsing at the end of her race, praying and thanking God for her victory?

Everything went according to the game plan, and the ‘W’ was locked and sealed. Onto next week.

But, how do we as athletes bring glory in defeat when we can’t find much to be thankful for, our spirits are low, our emotions are running wild, and we can barely pick ourselves up to keep moving towards the next goal?

Here’s the kicker: there is always something to be thankful for, even in defeat.

Afterall, have we as athletes not been gifted with at least one of the following: sport, health, team, community, a faithful God who never leaves and who does not look down on us when we fail, plus the talents and the opportunities we have to play the sport we love?

Taking this time to be thankful for these gifts can help shift athletes’ focus from themselves back to God, bringing Him the glory.

Defeat often brings out all sorts of emotions amongst athletes. When we lose, sometimes all we want to do is drop a couple cuss words or sucker punch the water cooler – and being angry isn’t a bad thing.

We do however need to be careful of what we do in our anger because as we all know, our actions speak to the entire team. Losses are tough, there is no denying that, but can we not demonstrate giving Him glory in our defeat by walking away from the temptation to outwardly rage or hurt others and instead, turn to Him, recognize our dependence, and talk to Him about our anger?

He cares!

Feelings also show our constant need for a rescuer. Since we have been given the gift of emotions, the Giver cares about us when we are feeling all the feelings.

So, athlete, go ahead and openly take your feelings to God. With sport being a huge part of an athlete’s life, when we face a tough loss, it truly is devastating. Are we expected to be trapped within our sadness? Absolutely not! The precious thing about God is He takes people where they’re at, but He does not leave them there. Allowing Him to help us process said emotions brings Him tremendous glory, and in that, He can lead athletes out of their grief over defeat and into a place of hope.

We cannot let a devastating loss keep us from getting back on the court and giving it our all once again. Yes, there is importance in taking the time needed to process through a crushing defeat, but it is equally as important to keep moving forward and fighting the good fight.

When athletes give it their all, play with passion, and to the very best of their ability, that is sometimes the greatest way we can go about bringing the glory to where it belongs. So, why not continue to give everything on the field even after a tough loss?

Using the gifts and abilities He gives athletes with their maximum effort can bring about incredible glory.