On January 18, 2012, the longest winning streak in US intercollegiate varsity sports history—252 consecutive victories—ended when Trinity College lost a squash match to Yale. The morning after the team’s first loss in 14 years, Trinity’s coach, Paul Assaiante, received an e-mail from a friend, a prominent professional football coach, who wrote, “Well, now you get to bounce back.” Ten days later, that football coach’s team lost in one of the most widely seen athletic events—the NFL Super Bowl. All of us must cope with defeat.
The feeling of failure after an athletic loss mirrors our greater self-condemnation following a spiritual collapse. How can we recover from grieving God and others, along with disappointing ourselves? The apostle John wrote, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). God forgives us because Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins (2:2).
God’s pardon sets us free to begin again and focus on today’s opportunity rather than yesterday’s defeat. His faithful cleansing allows us to start over with a pure heart. Today, God invites and enables us to bounce back.
When you’ve felt His hand lead you day by day,
But your steps now take you another way,
Start over. —Kroll