The Agony of Defeat and the Hope of Christ

by Lee Buford on April 16, 2012

If you were born before 1980 you likely remember the old ABC Sports commercials depicting “the thrill of victor and the agony of defeat.” They painted a good picture of both, particularly the agony part, and became synonymous with key events in sports for people of my generation.

The gap between winning and losing is often minuscule, yet the results of each produce a much wider disparity of emotional consequence. The agony of defeat is ultimately always greater than the thrill of victory. The thrill of victory tends to generate a short-term high of excitement, accomplishment, and satisfaction. The agony of defeat produces a longer-term misery; often resulting in depression, anger, disappointment, and even the desire to quit for good.

Neither is ultimately good for our souls and; thus, reveals the most certain danger in placing our hope in the game to start with. There will be loss, injury, and disappointment. There will be condemnation, bad days, and failures. For all of us! Apart from the grace of God, it’s a game we simply can’t win.

Our true hope must ultimately rest with Christ, in His finished work on the cross, and in His unwavering sovereignty and faithfulness. Our hope must rest in the assurances of our faith and the promise that there is ultimately more at stake than the outcome of this game. The writer of Hebrews urges us to remain steadfast in this manner:

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)

Think about this as you prepare for the game today, whatever game you may be playing. Are you focused on things of eternal value? Is your hope in the proper place, trusting only in the one source capable of sustaining that hope for the long haul?

The agony of defeat is brutal and debilitating. The hope of Christ is good and life-changing.

Only in Him is there ultimately joy and victory.




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