by J. Gerald Harris

The Thrill of Victory
Dr. J. Gerald Harris
II Timothy 4:6-8

You can hardly think of the thrill of victory without thinking of the agony of defeat. For many years ABC television had a program entitled "Wild World of Sports." The program was introduced by a film clip that graphically pictured athletes celebrating their victories. The agony of defeat was pictured by a skier coming down one of those long ski ramps, losing his balance, and crashing over the side of the ramp.

When I think of the agony of defeat, I think of the 1986 Word Series between the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox. That was the series where Boston had the opportunity to win the world championship for the first time since 1918. But that is also the baseball game in which Bill Buckner, the first baseman for the Boston Red Sox, allowed a ground ball to roll between his legs in the last half of the ninth inning. That error permitted the Mets to win the ball game and seal Boston's fate. The dejection on the face of Bill Buckner, and the despair of the entire Red Sox team, pictured the agony of defeat.

And, of course, we all remember watching Dan Janssen in the winter Olympics in 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway. In three previous Olympic games, Dan Janssen had failed to win a medal in his specialty, the 500-meter speed-skating event. Three times he had given the Olympics a piece of his heart, and three times the games had forgotten to send him a valentine in return. However, in this fourth attempt, he was on the first stride of the last turn in this event and he lost control under his left skate. He tried to pull his foot back, but his left hand grazed the ice. He lost a half-second in that slip and consequently lost the race.

Sports Illustrated compared Dan Janssen to Susan Lucci who repeatedly fails to win that Emmy for her leading role in one of those daytime soap operas.

But we've all had to contend with our defeats, our failures, our losses. And whereas losses may help to build c ...

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