I still don’t know how it happened, but I am now officially a soccer coach. Don’t get me wrong. I love the game of soccer. I have played it recreationally for years. I’ve never, however, played organized soccer.
One moment I was signing my son up to play and the next I found myself coach of the Edna Rebels U-9 soccer team.
Though I often feel overwhelmed and underequipped for the task, we have had a lot of fun this season and have managed to even win a couple of games. Some teams in our league, however, are way out of our league.
During a recent game, which we eventually lost 8-2, one of my eight year olds walked up to me on the sideline and blurted out,
“God is against us!”
Trying to be both coach and pastor, I told him,
“No, Octavian. God loves us. We just need to play better defense.”
How often don’t we feel like that exasperated eight year old? Everybody at school seems to hate you and make fun of you. The needs and anger of your aging mother seem to be more than you can bear. You’re sick. Your brother is in the hospital. Your husband has cancer. You feel beaten down, overwhelmed and underequipped.
Sometimes it feels like God is against us.
But he’s not. God is on our side. He is the God who joined our team – who became a human being just like us – to live and die as our Savior. He is the God who loves us unconditionally and whose forgiveness is unbounded. He is the God who conquered sin and death so that you could live victoriously with him forever in heaven.
As the Apostle Paul said, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” The answer: Nobody. With God on our side, we can’t lose.
But wait a minute. The Edna Rebels still lost that game 8-2. In fact, we lost a bunch of games this season. My brother still has cancer. My job is still demanding. My problems haven’t suddenly disappeared. It doesn’t seem like God is for us.
That’s when we need to remember that God uses the defeats and problems to teach us, to help us to grow and to lead us to trust in him more. I can honestly say the Edna Rebels U-9 soccer team has improved much more because of our losses than because of our victories.
God loves us so much, he lets us lose. He loves us so much, he allows us to suffer, to struggle, to face obstacles so that we can grow in our faith and grow closer to him.
I know it’s hard to see and understand. We won’t fully see and understand until we cross the finish line of heaven. There we will receive the victor’s crown – the trophy – Jesus won for us.
Meanwhile we will have some games we lose 8-2. That doesn’t mean God is against us.
It just means we need to play better defense.