Losing is hard. Whether it’s something as simple as losing a game, or it’s the end of a long-term relationship or not getting the job, losses happen.
Losing is hard. Whether it's something as simple as losing a game, or it's the end of a long-term relationship or not getting the job, losses happen. In most cases, there's only one winner. We'll lose more often than we win.
Maybe that's why we were so touched by Andy Murray's tears during his speech last night. He did what anyone who has worked hard for something and didn't get it would want to do.
What struck me most about Murray's speech, though, wasn't the tears. It wasn't the sportsmanship he displayed in conceding that Federer deserved the title. It wasn't the appreciative words spoken to his family, friends and fans. It was his opening statement.
"I'm getting closer."
Most people expect good sportsmanship out of anyone competing. But Christians are supposed to be different. Does that mean we're supposed to display bad sportsmanship? Of course not. Rather, it means we should go beyond what is expected of everyone else – just like a world-class athlete should go beyond what is expected of a young child playing football in the park with his friends.
In Philippians, Paul writes, "I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already achieved perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me" (chapter 3, verse 12). He goes on to say that he forgets the past so he can look "forward to what lies ahead" (verse 14).
While there are definite lessons about our walk with God in these verses, there is also a lesson about responding to loss. Of course we want to win. There will be times when we do win. But there will be times when we lose. We won't get the job. We won't get the house. We won't get the relationship. It's our response in those times that people are looking for, that God is looking at.
We know how much winning meant to Murray. We saw how disappointed he was that he lost. He even said he's taking a break to recover and get his mind in focus to learn from his experience at Wimbledon and improve his game. Then, in a few weeks, he'll be back on the court representing Team GB in the Olympics.
As Christians, our response to disappointments or what we see as failure should be similar. It's alright to feel some emotion. It's alright to grieve. We don't have to pretend to be strong when we're not. It's alright to rejuvenate, to refill our spirits and our bodies after a loss. Then, after we do that, we need to get back on the field, or the court, or the job, or wherever we lost before and try again.
We don't have to do it on our own. Murray said of his supporters, "They make it so much easier to play." God knows it's not always easy. He knows we need that support. He has provided it in our families, our friends or the "great cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1) that has gone before us, there are people cheering for us. There are people waiting for us to keep going. They are waiting for us to win.
So, when we lose, we can learn from Andy Murray. Through his disappointment, he was still able to say, "I'm getting closer." In the same way, we can let people see our hurt, but then we can keep going.
When we do that, we can say as Paul did, "I press on."