Could it be true that God would want me to lose?! Ouch. Is that the way that he works? But, I thought if God is for me, then who can be against me? I don't know about you, but as an athlete, I thought God - the God that loves, cares, pursues, and died for me - always wants me to win. We sing and preach about Jesus' victory, so why did God give me this loss that I didn't ask for? These are some honest thoughts I’ve recently been having.
Over the last 20 months, this seemingly confusing tension raided my thoughts. In January of 2016 I went abroad to coach a professional team in Iceland and I came back after leading the team to relegation (the team was dropped to a lower level) and losing my job before the season ended. As I searched for a new career, I wondered why the Lord brought me across the whole world to lose.
The following January I found myself in jobs I didn't want to be in and a life I didn't want. I was living in my boss' house and wondering, "how did I get here?" I kept asking God, "Why do I feel like I'm constantly losing?"
About a month ago, the Lord very clearly answered my question. Mark's account of Jesus healing the paralyzed man brought through the roof, demonstrated the good and powerful work of Jesus, even in situations where we seem to be losing. Jesus chose not to heal the paralyzed man first, but instead, Jesus satisfied the man's greatest need by forgiving him of his sins (Mark 2:5).
The man, and probably most people in the room, believed he needed Jesus because he needed to walk again... But Jesus knew his real need was to be forgiven of his sins, so that he could forever walk with God the Father! Out of God's goodness and love for his people, He satisfied the man's ultimate need because he cares for him (1 Peter 5:6-7). God does that for you and me, too!
God promises that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28).
Because of who God is, we can trust that God is constantly working for our good, and in line with his purpose.
No matter what. Because of the sinner that I am, my greatest need is forgiveness of my sins, not winning a soccer game, or having a winning season, or playing in every game, or healing from an unwanted injury. My greatest need is always to be brought closer to God, and that is made possible only through Jesus' forgiveness of sins. Thankfully, the Lord brings us to places and people that are designed to turn us to Jesus.
Marshall Segal writes, "But all the hard things in life that might tempt us to doubt God and his goodness are meant by God to lead us to him." Losing my job, working ones I didn't want, and moving away from people I love were hard things that made me feel far from a winner. But as I've rested on the truth out of the book of Mark and I continue to recognize my "losing" as a way to get to God, I praise Him for things I've lost in order to gain Him.
So… what is the truth behind winning and losing in our sport...?
Well Jesus lived, died, and rose again, so we COULD be close to God! Real victory is freedom from sin and separation, and getting to walk with a good and perfect God. I still don't enjoy losing in my sport or in life, and do not choose to lose, but now I see that God works in those times. Wherever you feel like you're losing, I encourage you to trust God is working for your good and to draw near to him! My prayer is that we would continually choose Jesus over “the ability to walk again”.
Hey FAM! I played soccer at University of South Florida, have played and coached professional soccer in Iceland, and am now a youth and college soccer coach. I just love being apart of a team and I'm passionate about helping others grow into the children of God He created them to be!!