November 20, 2023

“Give thanks for all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)

The reality of what we had just witnessed left us stunned! A simple run around the right side had given our opponent the win. Regulation had ended in an 8-8 tie. After the first overtime, we were knotted at 16-16. In the second overtime, we turned the ball over on downs after being stopped just one foot from the goaline. We knew the circumstances were not in our favor. We had come so close. It was our first loss of the season following a surprising 3-0 start. Heads hung low in the post-game huddle as coaches and players collected their thoughts. We had played our best game of the season and only had a loss to show for it—or so we thought. We put our arms around each other and prayed. Something happened to our team that night. We grew. We came together as a team. A bond and a brotherhood developed that would carry us through the rest of the season. In a time of heartbreak and disappointment, we realized that we truly loved and cared about one another. We knew that our hard work was paying off. With a renewed spirit, we went back to work and did not suffer a loss the rest of the season.

When that final whistle blew, grateful was not a word most players and coaches were thinking about. In time however, we realized that God had a perfect plan for this team. From the ashes of defeat came an unbelievable finish to the season. Giving thanks should be a Christian’s first emotion. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” If that is true, and it is, then we should be able to praise the Lord at all times, in all circumstances, and for everything. We should be grateful even in the most challenging of times and the most difficult of losses. When we are suffering, it may not seem that gratitude is the appropriate response. Here is something to remember. Whatever situation God permits to come into our lives, know that it is designed to conform us to the image of His Son. Our lives are not controlled by luck, chance, or fate, but by our wonderful and personal Lord who does not make mistakes. How amazing is that?

Heavenly Father, You alone know what is best for me. Teach me to live in a way that I decrease and You increase. Mold me a little more each day into the image of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Keep me in Your perfect will today. In Jesus name, Amen.

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