“The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat!” I bet you recognized that right off as the introduction for years to the Wide World of Sports. We celebrate our children’s smallest accomplishments, “Let’s all clap our hands for Tommy he just used the potty!” “Cheer for Susan, she ate all her broccoli!” Then come the report card grades earning gold stars or dollars for an A, punishment for anything below a C, unless you were my parents and a C in math for me was like anyone else getting an A, that was my agony of defeat! My A’s were all earned in English, History and Science; I am ashamed to report I never, ever got an A in any math class I ever took! Thank God for computers and calculators!
We tend to judge ourselves more harshly than we judge anyone else. Boys are never strong enough, girls are never slim enough… we tend to judge ourselves by the pictures on the magazine covers instead of looking in the pages of the Word and letting that be our mirror. James 1:23-24 “Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.”
Our victories are short lived at times, “Oops Tommy wet his pants” and “Susan was caught giving her vegetables to the dog!” For us defeat may be getting fired when we felt we didn’t deserve it, or having a lover abandon us for someone else, of course also undeserved, but in the grand scheme of life what difference do things actually make?
I was talking to someone last year before the holidays, which was totally disenchanted with the whole holiday celebration of Christmas, to quote, “The holiday entails the obligation of family gatherings. I am talking about the dysfunctional crap that happens when families get together under the pretense that all is well and peaceful and beautiful, If only that were true.” I thought on that, and to me that is the agony of defeat for real. We can sing, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me” and if we all believed that and tried to make it true in our own lives couldn’t we really make things better? Could we get together and be happy without having to pretend? Could everyone sit at the table without the refusal of some to be a part of the family? Why then do we pretend, or are we simply trying to make it true by continuing the tradition of pretense? Long gone are the days of laughter and hope for the future, of hugging each other goodbye and really hating to have to leave the gathering rather than being relieved that it is all over, at last! I wonder if this all makes God happy? Is it what we were designed for? Jesus prayed a prayer in chapter 17 of John: 20-23 The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, So they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are—I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you’ve sent me and loved them in the same way you’ve loved me.
If we could make that unity happen even in our small family groups, wouldn’t that be like the “thrill of victory”? Revelation 3:20-21 “Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That’s my gift to the conquerors!”
Can you make the difference in anyone’s life? Maybe the difference starts with and in you!