Victory. That is what many sports teams are after as they move into playoffs and final games. Victory. In sports, we love the story of the underdog. The David vs. Goliath story. The team that defies the odds.
I have always loved the story of David and Goliath. It has to be one of the more popular and well-known stories of the Bible. As I re-read it today, I realized that I had forgotten that David volunteered to take on Goliath. He had complete confidence that he would be victorious. Saul and his brothers thought he was crazy. But David had complete confidence, not because he was super human or athletically gifted, but because he had God on his side. His confidence was because he had complete faith. He boldly told Goliath why he could beat him with just a sling and a stone:
“You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have insulted.”
1 Samuel 17:45
No matter our strength or our talent, we are undefeatable when we are with God, when we have faith.
My son is currently playing in the high school soccer playoffs. Although I feel silly spending time in prayer about a high school soccer game, I still do. I know there are so many greater things to pray about — including in our own lives, and yet still I ask God, if it is your will, help these young men shine your light and your strength and help them bring home a victory. Somehow, it comes easy to pray over a sporting event, but then I forget to do the same for the everyday challenges and victories in my own life.
All of our victories big and small are made possible through God. I love when athletes are humble enough to recognize that their abilities and talents are gifts from God. Tim Tebow was a great example of someone who chose not to forgot his faith on the field. But sometimes I wonder about whether the athletes who point to the sky are truly thanking God, or just saw someone else do it and think it makes them look cool or think they are signaling that they are number one. I hope they are truly thanking God. But as frustrated as I sometimes get with athletes who seem to be feigning a recognition to God for their touchdown or miraculous catch, I realize that rarely do I remember to recognize God for my daily accomplishments at home or at work.
Earlier in the book of Samuel, Hannah praises God, who has gifted her with a child (Samuel). Her words remind me of how arrogant I am not to thank God for everything that I do, everything that I accomplish. I don’t need to throw a touchdown pass to thank God:
There is no Holy One like the LORD; there is no Rock like our God. Speak boastfully no longer, Do not let arrogance issue from your mouths. For an all-knowing God is the LORD, a God who weighs actions. The bows of the mighty are broken, while the tottering gird on strength.
1 Samuel 2: 2-4
Her prayer is a great reminder. There is nothing I can legitimately boast about or take credit for. All of my gifts and talents come from God. All of my actions (even the best of them) are nothing compared to those of the Lord.
It also reminds me that we are all Davids. We are all the underdogs in the world. When we think we alone are something different, when we boast or try to be the mighty, without God, we will fall. We will be broken. But with God, the underdogs, the tottering, become the mighty. We can put on the strength and armor of our God, through our faith. And we can be victorious.
There is no one like you. There is no one all powerful and all knowing but you. You are my rock. You are my strength. Through you I know I can do anything. Through you I know my son’s soccer team can do anything. I pray that they have the faith to believe — not just today, not just for a game, but throughout life. Through you they can accomplish anything.