The Agony of Defeat

Though it’s been forty years since I played in the NFL – wow, can that even be possible? – I still keep up enough to both enjoy and be miserable, week in and week out, concerning how my team’s performing. Many people assume that I root for the Saints because I played for them, but that’s actually not the case. I’ve always rooted for the team closest to the city that I live in. That said, for the last 28 years, my team has been the Atlanta Falcons.

It was so exciting to see them pull off home field advantage in the playoffs, and then commanding victories led to them facing the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. I kept saying over the two weeks leading up to the game that I really thought they had a very good chance of winning the game. That result was exciting to think about, especially considering that the Falcons had only been to one Super Bowl and had never won one.

Then it happened. I’m sitting with friends, enjoying great food, and repeatedly jumping up to holler and give a high five, as Atlanta dominates in every aspect of the game. They were so far ahead, and then the Patriot’s started slowly coming back. Still, it seemed virtually impossible that Atlanta could lose the game based on the score and time left.

But it happened. The seemingly impossible happened. The sure-fire winner of Super Bowl 51, actually lost the game in overtime. It was absolutely devastating.

I was reminded of ABCs Wide World of Sports that ran on Saturday’s years ago. It was about the human drama of athletic competition. The intro always showed excerpts of glorious victories followed by epic tragedies from sporting events. Over this montage of quick clips the narrator said, “Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport. The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.”

All that got me thinking about some of the greatest sure-fire-win to epic-loss scenarios from history. Many are athletic events, but not all. As I ran through the list in my head, several came to mind from the Bible. Of course there’s David and Goliath. Who saw that coming! But there’s another one from the Bible that trumps them all. It will forever be the greatest comeback of all time. I’m speaking of the resurrection.

How I felt immediately after the Falcons sudden loss had to be similar to how Satan felt when Jesus Christ rose from the dead. The thrill of what the devil assumed was his greatest victory, suddenly turned into the agony of defeat.

The good news is that unlike the Falcons loss, Satan’s loss that day will never be forgotten or diminished. The Falcons aren’t finished, there’s still hope of winning a Super Bowl. Satan’s loss, was eternal. It was the greatest and most epic failure in all of human history. Making Jesus right when he said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live.”

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live.” John 11:25