Thirty-eight years to the day after the “Miracle on Ice” – the USA men’s hockey team beating the seemingly unbeatable Soviet Union 4-3 on their way to winning the Olympic gold medal – our women’s hockey team experienced their own shining moment, beating their arch rival Canada 3-2 in a shootout to win gold. If you’ve been watching the Olympics, you have seen both the ups and downs of competition. Some athletes, even ones not expected to contend for a medal, have found themselves with a medal around their neck, while others, sometimes even odds on favorite to win, have found themselves watching the medal ceremony for their sport from the stands.
Maybe right now you find yourself on the medal stand, drinking in the “thrill of victory,” or maybe, you find yourself laying in a heap at the bottom of the hill, experiencing the “agony of defeat.” Life is like that. Some days we on are top, other days, on the bottom. Some of life’s ups and downs can be avoided by choices we make, however much of the roller coaster ride is unavoidable; it is just part of living.
It is often in the moments of defeat that our character and our faith shines brightest. My college football coach frequently said, “Men, it is what you say in the post-game interview after we’ve lost a game, not the words after a big victory, that truly reflects your character.”
Thankfully we have a God who is both in control in and through all things and with us in and through all those same things. Regardless of your current events, whether you can feel His presence or not, God is with you, giving you both strength and hope. The prophet Isaiah, speaking on behalf of God, spoke these words – “But you Israel, my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took to the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, ‘You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off,’ fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Is. 41:8-10)
Those precious words give us strength, knowing and believing that we do not walk life on this earth alone, unseen by God. Not only is there encouragement in having God today, as followers of Jesus, we know how the story ends, which gives us hope for better days ahead. Revelation 11:15 tells us with certainty that Jesus will reign forever and ever. Not only that, later on in that same book, just a few verses before the end of the Bible, it is also clear that the saints (Christ-followers) will reign with Him forever and ever too (Rev. 22:3-5).
So, right now, today, whether you find yourself on the medal stand gulping down victory, or you find yourself watching and wondering what is it like to taste victory, you can rest assured that because of Jesus, no trial, big or small, will overcome you; instead, you overcome it! Now that is the thrill of victory, achieved and anticipated!
New Bern, North Carolina