If you’ve ever coached before, you can understand the emotion felt after a tough loss and having to make adjustments to a team line-up. After losing a significant lacrosse game, our coaching staff jammed together in a small, dark coaches room and began to discuss a difficult decision regarding two goalies on our team.

We had challenged both players that they could start as a goalie for the team if they could stop more shots than what they let in during the next game. However, both goalies didn’t perform well, and our team ended up losing the game in a crushing overtime defeat.

As we began the hard task of discussing which player would move forward as starting goalie, there was a knock on the door to the coaches’ room. Much to our surprise, one of our goalies stood in the doorway with eye black still smeared on his face from the gameplay. He wasn’t the most physically impressive player on the team but stood there in front of us with tears in his eyes.

All six of us coaches looked at him in silence for a few seconds.

Having been in this situation many times before, I was sure that our player was going to ask if he could have another chance on the field or what he needed to do to become the starting goalie. However, this young student-athlete broke the silence with, “I take full responsibility for our team’s loss. I promise you, it will never happen again.”

Then he quietly walked out of the room and slammed the door behind him. After about ten seconds of shock, our coaching staff looked at each other with grins on our faces. We had found the perfect goalie to lead our team.

We’ve all been on teams where players have had difficulty celebrating a victory if their individual accomplishments were not met. We’ve also been in the uncomfortable situation where after a heartbreaking loss, a teammate doesn’t seem concerned because of their own glowing individual performance. The broken heart of our goalie reminds me that there is a correct way for Christians to respond to sadness. While God never wants us to become easily distraught about the things of this world, He does want our hearts to break over the condition of others and things that are important to Him.

In Nehemiah Chapter 2, God uses Nehemiah’s heart for people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and to become a leader. Reading the passage, the king asks Nehemiah why he feels sad, as he’s never been sad in the king’s presence before. Nehemiah bravely responds that his heart was breaking over his people and for the city of Jerusalem that lay in ruins. Because Nehemiah focused on what broke God’s heart, the Lord blessed him in many ways and led him to rebuild the wall and help return the city to prosperity.

The challenge that I take away from this passage is to not let my own heart become burdened by earthly things or selfish motives, but to share in God’s hurt that there are still people who have not yet fully embraced Him or have accepted His free gift of salvation. There are still people who I deeply care about that do not experience the true joy and peace of walking with Jesus Christ as I do.

What breaks your heart today?

The next time you feel sad or disappointed by life, reevaluate what’s in your heart. Remember that when we bear the burdens of others, God can use us in powerful ways to accomplish His will in the world today.

Since 1954, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has been challenging coaches and athletes on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels to use the powerful medium of athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ. FCA focuses on serving local communities by equipping, empowering and encouraging people to make a difference for Christ – to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.

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