You find yourself looking at the scoreboard as the final seconds tick off the clock. You visualized the outcome of this game at least a hundred times, but not like this. You see the slumping shoulders and downward-pointed eyes among your teammates. You dread the expected handshaking ceremony after the game, because you feel the unwelcome burning of tears threatening to fall. I have seen our children experience season-ending interceptions in the last seconds of a football playoff game. I have seen a key player’s injury basically snuff out the post-season dreams of an undefeated basketball team that our sons were on. I have witnessed our kids trying to make sense of a loss that seemingly came out of nowhere. Moms desperately want to take heartbreak from their children. I have experienced times of failing to find the words that would do that after dream-ending losses.
I remember our oldest son being an example of grace and looking to Jesus for strength when he endured two heart-wrenching basketball and football season endings his senior year. I remember overhearing our second son console others and tell his little brother, “You really stepped up this year. I’m proud of you,” after a season-ending loss his senior year in which their double-digit point third-quarter lead shockingly turned into a loss. I remember our third son posting a thanksgiving-filled social media post of the positive experience of high school sports shortly after his senior basketball season ended sooner than he had hoped. I remember our daughter displaying amazing poise and maturity during a very disappointing time of one of her high school basketball seasons.
Why do your reactions matter when faced with disappointments? Here are three reasons:
1) you are representing your college. You signed a dotted line promising to conduct yourself positively on behalf of that institution;
2) you are representing your family. Most parents do their best to raise their children to be respectful and resilient. When hardship happens, you make your family proud when you handle it with class;
3) you are representing Jesus. He deserves our best reflection.
We would probably agree it is easier to display the character of Jesus Christ when things are going well, but when adversity strikes, it can especially impact others if we react to difficult situations by pointing people toward the Kingdom of God. In every trial, there is an opportunity to show how God will work through it to exhibit His glory. Take advantage of every chance to glorify God!
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
Dear Lord, I realize disappointments can sometimes be part of the college athletic experience. I pray you will help me deal with sadness in a powerful way. I pray that I console others going through difficult situations with words and actions that reveal Your love, comfort, and faithfulness. Help me keep my focus on what is most important: You. In Your holy name I pray, Amen.