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How to Handle the Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat as a Believer!


This week we've been thrilled with watching the annual tournament of college basketball aka "March Madness"! One of the early upsets featured #13 Furman over four-seeded Virginia. What an upset! Players rushed the floor. There was dancing and champagne bottles uncorked. It was indeed the pinnacle of victory!

Furman, though, would come crashing down to earth just 48 hours later at the hands of San Diego State. Why the letdown after such jubilation? Arguably, San Diego State was just a better basketball team. But so was Virginia.

My theory is that Furman (and other lesser-ranked teams who have knocked off Goliaths including Princeton who knocked off my Arizona Wildcats) experienced "post-celebration" blues, the psychological letdown which follows the high of knocking off a ranked powerhouse like Virginia, with its locker room celebration, uncorking of champagne bottles and dancing in euphoric ecstasy.

Post-celebration blues have both biological and psychological roots, primarily stemming from the contrast between how we expected to feel when “the big event” was over and how we actually feel (Kennedy-Moore).

But did you know "post-celebration" blues happen in the spiritual realm, as well? Yes, believers can feel the thrill of victory - over a negative health condition, the promotion to a new position, the joy of having found a mate - but we also run smack dead into the agony of defeat - when how we felt after the big victory meets how we feel now.

Like those Furman players and others, it's hard to get up for the next battle. It's as if everything we had in us was left in the "locker room" of celebration!

So, what to do? Here's a quick check list for handling the post-victory blues.

One, sustain yourself for the long run.

Understand life is not a sprint, it's a marathon. As such, you will need to nourish yourself, feed yourself with the word of God. In I Kings, Elijah is commanded by the angel twice to eat and sustain himself. Why? The angel explains to him, "If you don't, you will not be strong enough to make the long trip." (I Kings 19:7) Sustain your body, mind and spirit for the next battle. God, in HIs infinite wisdom, knows what's down the road and what it will take to get us there!

Two, keep it all in perspective with the big picture approach.

I like how the apostle Paul put it: I run straight toward the goal! (Philippians 3:14) Through victory or defeat, keep your eyes on the prize of the high calling which is in Christ Jesus!

Three, celebrate but don't inebriate.

What I mean by this is don't get drunk off success. Understand that success breeds problems, problems breed success. One of the things I love about Jesus Christ during His earthly walk was his ability to remain focused on the work of kingdom building. Jesus did not become inebriated with success - he healed the sick, he raised the dead, he brought salvation to one village - and then it was on to the next one!

Whatever recent victory you have won against incredible odds, remember the enemy is always lurking to steal your joy.

Go all the way up, saints!


Download my new devotional Watch Your Life: The Believer's Guide to Thinking, Speaking and Acting Confidently in a Belief-Challenged World and the accompanying workbook.

And register for the upcoming Watch Your Life Spring Bible-Study Series beginning April 5 through May 3, 2023


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