Recently, our local football team, the Dallas Cowboys, lost in the playoffs to the Minnesota Vikings. The score was 34-3. It wasn’t even close.
Several times during the game, it looked like the Cowboys would pull ahead. But ultimately, they lost, and lost badly.
It must have been a particularly disappointing loss for Tony Romo, the quarterback. In a game when he should have been at his best, Romo wasn’t. His stats were disappointing, and he was sacked six times. He knows he is capable of better. Everyone else knows it, too.
Though the loss certainly wasn’t Romo’s fault alone, I bet he assigned himself a significant percentage of the blame. At least, looking at the picture on the next-day paper’s front page, it looks like he did.
In that picture, Romo is walking down a ramp that leads beneath the bleachers to the locker room. As he approaches the tunnel, there are fans on either side and fans in front of him who are sitting above the tunnel. Romo is walking with his shoulders looking as slumped as they can in that protective padding, his head down. His posture says that he’s taking it hard, and the headline agrees: Defeated, dejected.
Romo’s not the only person who stands out in this picture, however. There’s one more, a fan to Romo’s right, leaning over the railing with his arm and hand extended down, reaching out to Romo. Many other fans in the picture are doing the same thing. But what makes this fan stand out is the look on the young man’s face.
He’s not smiling. He’s not calling out to Romo. He wears a quiet, solemn look.
The difference between him and all the others is that this young man looks like he’s reaching out to offer Romo support, rather than to enjoy the privilege of slapping hands with a famous football player.
I could be completely wrong about this man. Maybe he was starstruck. Maybe all he wanted was the brief contact with fame.
Or maybe he really was reaching out to offer Romo support. Maybe he was reaching out his hand to say not I want a piece of you but Hey. It’s okay, man. You’re still great.
I’ll never know how he really felt because I don’t know who he is, so I can’t ask him. But I do know Someone who does respond that way in the face of someone else’s dejection and failure.
Our God responds like that. He sees us hurting, and He stretches out His hand, or wraps His arms around us, and says, It’s okay. I still love you.
Just as the fan must have been well aware that the Cowboys had just lost, God is well aware of when we’ve failed. If our failure involves sin, He doesn’t minimize that. But He does reassure us that whatever the circumstances of our failure, whether sin, mistake, or inability, He still loves us.
Looking at the picture, I thought about Romo looking up and seeing the fan’s outstretched hand, and I realized that it was a beautiful illustration of how God lifts up our heads.
When we look down at our feet, we see only our sins and failures and feel only the crushing weight of shame and disappointment. But when we look at Him, our heads are lifted, and we can see and receive His comfort and love.
Are you looking down at your feet today? Is the weight of your failure so heavy that it’s bowing your shoulders?
Look up. Look up and see the comfort God offers you. If you need forgiveness, He offers that, too. Let His encouragement soak into your soul.
Yes, you have failed. So have I. But despite our failures, we are loved. So let’s no longer focus on the ugly way we feel, but on the beautiful way He feels. Rather than allowing our sin to be our shame, let’s allow Him to be our glory. May our heads and our hearts be lifted as we learn to look not to what we have done, but to what He has done for us.
Psalm 3:3—But thou, O LORD, are a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.