“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” — Job 1:21b (NKJV)
Everything seemingly was gone.
The perfect season. The top-15 national ranking. The darkhorse Heisman hype. A looming bid to the Fiesta Bowl.
Everything Derek Carr had ever dreamed for as a football player, all the things he trained so relentlessly for ever since he was an 8-year-old watching his big brother David’s BCS dreams get dashed by Boise State in 2001 — it all came unraveled last Friday in a 62-52 loss at San Jose State, in the regular season finale, no less.
And what did Derek Carr say in the parking lot, just 30 minutes after the end of the BCS dream as he knew it?
“God is still so good,” Carr told me with a smile.
Anyone can thank God when things go well. It’s how we respond when things go wrong that tells the true depth of our love for Christ.
When Job blessed the name of the Lord in the verse above, he had lost devastatingly more than a football game. He had just lost every child, every employee and his entire source of income — in a single day. Yet, look at his stunning response: praise God, anyhow.
Fast forward thousands of years to our lives today. How do we respond when things go bad? What are the first words out of our lips towards God when things go south? If Job can come up with that in the worst imaginable scenario, what’s our excuse when life offers us supremely inferior setbacks?
For 17 years, I’ve seen countless athletes who thank God when they win, but say nothing about Him when they lose. I remember covering the 49ers in 2010, and never hearing their cross-wearing head coach say one word of thanks to God during an 0-5 start — but when they finally won a game, how did he start his press conference? “I want to start by thanking God for …”
And that’s great. By all means, let us as Christians give God thanks when we receive good at the hand of the Lord. But isn’t God just as worthy of our thanks when we receive evil, as Job said? And he would know; he was a receiving-evil expert.
Giving God thanks when we lose out doesn’t mean we like losing out. It just means our love and praise of God is not results-oriented. It can’t be circumstantial. It shouldn’t be conditional. God is so good, even when the final score isn’t.
Which brings us back to Derek Carr. My press pass got me on the sideline near the end of Friday’s game at San Jose State. I’ve listened to Derek give God thanks and praise since August, whether his newborn baby was in the hospital or if they were beating Boise State.
How would Derek respond now that they’ve finally lost, when things didn’t work out in the end?
He first went and hugged the opposing quarterback, congratulating him on his game. He stood alone for a few moments at midfield.
Then he yelled out something at the top of his lungs, loud enough for all of his teammates to hear in the midst of the raging Spartans’ celebration. It sounded like he yelled “Hut!” or maybe “Hey!”
Immediately, teammates met him at midfield as Carr took a bended knee. With all heads bowed, the star quarterback addressed his teammates for the first time since the clock hit 0:00.
His first words came in the form of a prayer. A prayer of thanksgiving. Because at the end of the day, God is still so good, and the football losses in the world can’t change that. Remember that tonight if Fresno State loses to Utah State in the Mountain West Conference title game.
“Dear heavenly father,” Carr shouted in the prayer circle, “we thank you …”
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