In any sport, losses are always frustrating. Though you can learn from losses or be challenged by losses, it is hard to imagine enjoying a loss—and the tougher the loss, the harder it is to get beyond it. This certainly applies to the St. Louis Cardinals after game two of the World Series. Having won the first game at home, the Cards went into game two flying high and fully intent on holding serve at home, which would allow them to travel to Texas with a 2-0 advantage in games for the best-of-seven series. The Rangers, however, had other ideas. The Cardinals held the lead going into the top of the ninth, but saw it slip away in the kind of late-inning rally that can tear the heart out of a team. Some losses are harder to take than others, and the Cardinals lost this one the hard way—sending them to Texas with no cushion and lots of questions.
Not all setbacks are created equal—in sports or in life. Some of those reversals take a lot longer to recover from, for they cloud our thinking and cause us to question things that we once took for granted. Such was the case with Simon Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples. Brimming with confidence following the Last Supper, he rejected Jesus’ warning of upcoming failure and attempted to show how strong he was. Big mistake. His now infamous three denials of Jesus was the hardest of failures. And when he realized what he had done, “Peter went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62).
This was not your everyday, run-of-the-mill failure. This one stung him to the depths of his soul. When Jesus rose from the grave, He intentionally reached out to Peter (Mark 16:7). But the failed disciple found no comfort there, apparently choosing to abandon his role as a follower of Christ and return to his old life as a fisherman (John 21). When the losses of life come hard, it’s almost impossible to believe that there can ever be relief or return. But the path for return is the path of forgiveness. When Jesus restored him to service, Peter was able to move forward again, but it took a special awareness of the restoration and grace of Christ. That is the only way back when we have failed the hard way. We may not be able to undo the damage we have done, but Christ can give us forgiveness and hope for moving forward. It doesn’t erase the hard truth of the failures of the past, but it is the necessary and healing step forward in Him.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain