My kid’s soccer season is over. He didn’t get a trophy. And it’s all my fault.
He played really well this season. He seems to be getting better and having more fun as he progresses. The rest of his team was also improving and having fun. I think that some of them may have gotten a trophy. I’m not sure.
But my son didn’t.
And like I said, it’s all my fault.
There’s no scoreboard on the field where my son played his games this year. And there’s no parent seated on the sideline, keeping an official record of which team got the most goals. Just a bunch of kids chasing after a ball.
Just before the season was over a parent-volunteer asked me for ten dollars and the correct spelling of my son’s name. Plans were being made for an end of the season party where trophies would be given out, not to the best team, but to every kid.
I saved ten dollars that day.
Kids don’t know how to handle defeat. So the thinking is that giving them a trophy will help them to feel like winners even if they really aren’t. To put it another way, many parents are relying on a ten dollar trophy to do their job.
The Bible is not a collection of motivational sayings meant to remind us that everything is okay when it really isn’t. From its very beginning the Bible lets us know that something is wrong (Genesis 3). But we also see that through whatever troubles we may face, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). And one day, with just a word, he will finally make everything okay. Forever (Psalm 46:6,9; Revelation 19:11-21; 21:1-6).
For the Christian, hope is not found in the absence or denial of trouble but in the presence and promises of God.
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46:7
I was at every one of my kid’s games this year and I noticed something interesting. Although there were no scoreboards or parents yelling out who was winning, nearly every kid knew what the score was. They were keeping it in their head. And if they ever lost track, they would ask the nearest grown up.
This kind of thing frightened some adults.
“Uh, um, uh, let’s see here. Uh, I think that it’s tied. Yeah! Tied. Both teams won. Yippee!”
Eventually, most kids seemed to figure things out on their own. I know mine did. And when they figured out that they lost, it wasn’t pretty. But a ten dollar trophy wasn’t the answer to their troubles.
My sons went home with something better than that. Although they’re still trying to make sense of it all, they’re learning that with playing any game there is the risk of losing. That’s part of what makes winning so much fun.
That’s a hard lesson to learn. Several times this season, my son made the long walk back to our car knowing that his team came up short. Knowing that he wasn’t the best that day.
But he also knew that, win or lose, trophy or no trophy, he was going home with a father that loved him.
And that made everything okay.