by Shannon Caughey
We all know what it’s like to have a tough day at the office, including as a coach. Maybe you lost your temper during practice and said some things you wish you could take back. Perhaps you didn’t make the best decisions in the heat of competition and you feel like you failed your athletes. Maybe you received a scathing email from a parent, causing you to wonder if you’re doing a terrible job.
At times, tough days can prompt us to doubt whether we’re up to being the coach we want to be – and the coach we know God desires for us to be. We can beat ourselves up, feeling unworthy for this role. All of us have times when we desperately need encouragement.
To encourage is to “put courage in.” In this series of devotions, we’re looking at promises in the Bible about God and what he provides that “put courage in” us – even during our most difficult of days. In the last devotion, we saw the encouragement that comes with God’s promise to always be present with us. Let’s now take this a step further: the God who is present with us also promises that he loves us.
One of the descriptions of God’s love used repeatedly in Scripture is that it is an “unfailing love” (e.g., Exod. 15:13; 20+ times in the Psalms; Isa. 54:10; Lam. 3:32). In Psalm 52, David speaks about enemies who are plotting his destruction, telling lies about him, and engaging in other sorts of evil. David experiences plenty of “tough days at the office” because of the efforts of these enemies. It would be easy for David to doubt whether he can handle his role since it stirs up such opposition. He could give into discouragement.
Instead, David goes here in the closing verses of Psalm 52: “8 But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love. 9 I will praise you forever, O God, for what you have done. I will trust in your good name in the presence of your faithful people.” David chooses to focus on God and trust in God’s unfailing love.
The original Hebrew word for “unfailing love” is rich with meaning, making it challenging to fully capture in an English word or two. Other versions of the Bible translate it “steadfast love” or “lovingkindness.” I remember hearing it put like this: “You can never do anything to make God love you more than he already does, and you can never do anything to make God love you less than he already does. God already loves you perfectly and unfailingly.”
David’s olive tree reference points to what this means for us. In David’s context, olive trees continued to live and produce fruit even in harsh conditions. Like an olive tree, David is able to thrive despite his difficult circumstances. Why? Because he knows God is with him (he is “in the house of God”) and he knows God loves him with an unfailing love.
The same is true for you, Coach. You can know that the God who is present with you loves you perfectly. He made this abundantly clear through Jesus Christ. Your best days will not cause God to love you any more than he already does. And your worst days will not cause him to love you any less than he already does. Because this is true, you can thrive as you trust and follow Christ no matter how harsh your circumstances. You can thrive in being the coach God desires for you to be because you are secure in him and his love for you.
Be encouraged, Coach. The Lord loves you with an unfailing love.
For reflection: Take a few moments to meditate on this verse: “But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.” Thank God for his unfailing love for you.