The Thrill of Victory – The Agony of Defeat

Way, way back when I was just, as they say in the south, a youngin’ all we knew was basic television — without remotes! We actually had to get up, walk across the room and turn the dial on our television sets (and the very first set that I remember watching was actually in black and white). America’s television consisted at that time (to the best of my knowledge) of the broadcasting networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC. I grew up in the suburban Detroit area, so we actually another broadcasting network CBC – Canadian Broadcasting. There was no such thing as cable television. As I remember, all we had were three to four channels on our television to watch. Cartoons for us kids existed only on Saturday mornings. At any other times, if we wanted to watch television, we had to watch whatever one of those networks offered.

Although I don’t remember when I found this program, but once found, it became a favorite for when I didn’t have anything else to do on a late Saturday afternoon to early Saturday evening. On the screen came some magnificent shots and a particularly melodramatic introduction.

ABC Wide World of Sport Intro (note that the quality of this video is not too good, but still worth watching)

“Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport… the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat… the human drama of athletic competition… This is ABC’s Wide World of Sports!”

For some reason, even though I am not a big sports fan, this program captivated me. I got to see some really different sports that were not normally featured on television at that time. It was probably the first time I ever saw people skiing, or lifting weights. The shot of the long jump skier who crashes in the “agony of defeat” section of the introduction is the one image that I can still remember.

And while I am relatively sure that each and everyone of us relishes the “thrill of victory,” I don’t believe that anyone relishes “the agony of defeat.” At least it’s that way for me. I like when things go well, I love when a plan comes together and gets executed flawlessly. I like how good that feels, don’t you? There’s immense satisfaction in achieving success. And, unfortunately in a competition such as we find in sport there will always be one team that relishes “the thrill of victory,” while the other experiences “the agony of defeat.”

I remember watching my son play soccer (or football as our friends “across the pond” call it), he was an average player, and for the most part he liked the game. Throughout the time that he played soccer he and his team had some great wins, and also many losses. I watched as the coaches help to shape the kids from turning those defeats into lifelong lessons learned. Over time players began to understand that as with most things in life, they worked better and were most successful when they played together as a team. For usually when one player began to feel that they alone could do everything, the team would suffer the consequences of those selfish “showboating” actions. Those kids on my son’s teams learned that they could rely upon and draw strength from each other when they all played together to achieve the goal. When they really grasped the concept their games became that much more successful.

Those lessons that we learn from our “thrill of victories” and also from our “agony of defeats” translate well in our lives. When I go off on my own, devise my own plans, when I don’t stop and consult God, more often than not, I experience “the agony of defeat,” maybe not quite as much as that skier in the ABC Wide World of Sports introduction, but there’s still elements of disappointment there. I know this. I know that God’s plans are best, time and time again He’s shown me that He can be trusted. Time and time again, following His paths, sitting back and taking my hands off of situations, and letting God take control positions me for some wonderful blessings from Him.

Yet, I don’t always consult Him. I rush ahead, don’t stop to think, pray, or search His Word for His wisdom. Then, when I get myself in a real “pickle” of a situation, I turn to God and I implore Him to rescue me, which He gracefully does, turning victory from defeat. As I sit here and reflect upon that realization, it causes me to shake my head at myself. While I’m not sure if it’s because I think that God will tell me “no” when I really want a “yes,” I do know that my impatient nature wants to move on my timetable, not God’s. That’s something that I definitely have to work on.

“in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:6 NIV)

How about you? What has the “agony of defeat” taught you?

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