Editor’s Note: To be fair, I need to be forthcoming in saying that I am a HUGE Denver Broncos fan and Sunday’s Super Bowl win had me doing my own end zone happy dance. But this blog is not about gloating in the victory. It’s about learning from the loss...the loss of an extraordinary opportunity to praise God for His love and faithfulness in the midst of crushing defeat.
Carolina Panthers quarterback, Cam Newton, is on record as being an outspoken evangelical Christian athlete. To his credit, he has not shied away from giving God the glory for his successful football career. And during the pre-game show before Super Bowl 50, he starred in a commercial that offered this prayer: “...I know You molded me different. You placed purpose on my shoulders. So now I come to You, loyal. Give me the strength to finish this, my way.”
But when things didn’t go Cam's way, this year’s NFL MVP behaved like a pouting toddler. Shrouded in a black hoodie after the defeat, he brooded his way onto a press platform, mumbled through a few questions with pathetic two-word answers, and then stormed off.
The beating he is taking for that performance may be even worse than the pounding he took from the Broncos' defense. Pro football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders kicked off of a wave of criticism, saying to Cam Newton, "You are the face of our brand right now, you can't do that."
Truer words could not be spoken. Brand awareness is everything when you represent… not just in the NFL, but more importantly in the Church. And on a worldwide platform, Cam Newton lost that brand awareness… completely forgetting about who he ultimately represents.
I don’t want to pile on guy...he’s getting plenty of that from other players, commentators, media and probably worst of all, his mom who texted this reminder to him before the game.
“I want you to understand that hot and cold water comes out of different fountains. You are either hot or cold. You have a big platform. Which fountain are you?...Thru your language and actions speak words to uplift and not tear down...You win with your character and powerful words that you speak. Cam, you are highly favored. God is on your side...Remember God!”
Well mom...Cam forgot.
But haven’t we all in the midst of despair and discouragement? I am guilty of countless pity parties and tantrums with the Lord when I haven’t gotten my way. In fact, I would bet every Christ-follower on the planet has done it at least once (the only difference between us and Cam Newton is that the world wasn’t watching). So rather than continuing to sack Cam, let’s seek God in our post-game analysis.
There may be no bigger or better tantrum-thrower than King David. Yes… King David—a “man after God’s own heart” who was hand-picked by the Lord to lead His people. Take a journey through the Psalms and you will find David pitching all kinds of fits before the Lord in the midst of his suffering. But the most important thing to note in David’s laments is that he always winds up praising God for His faithfulness. Consider Psalm 13:
1 How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
4 And my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.
5 But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
An agonizing David is calling out God! He feels abandoned by the Lord… let down. BUT David demonstrates spiritual maturity by recognizing that his perspective is skewed by his pain. In verses 3 and 4 David asks the Lord to help him see the situation through a new lens... from a divine perspective. And what do you know… David stops ranting and re-affirms his confidence in God’s faithfulness even before the Lord has delivered him. God’s purpose (or at least part of His purpose) for allowing David to suffer was to develop spiritual maturity in his earthly representative...a character trait King David would need for the rest of his days.
I’m hoping Cam Newton will also gain some spiritual maturity through all of this, and that one day the Lord might even give him another shot at praising Him from a worldwide platform. But even if Cam doesn’t learn a thing from his demonstration of poor Christmanship, I know I have. I hope you have too. With that, GOD WINS!