Every Olympics provides us with a few special moments. While the great majority of the athletes and the great majority of their successes and failures quickly fade from our consciousness, a few special ones tend to stick around.
One moment from the 2020 Olympics that will remain in our minds, even if only because of the mountain of memes it generated, is an Australian swimming coach celebrating his athlete’s success. Ariarne Titmus has just narrowly edged out her American rival to claim a gold medal in the 400-meter freestyle. Her coach, Dean Boxall, is overwhelmed with the emotion of it. While Titmus celebrates in the pool, Boxall celebrates in the stands far above where he screams and pumps his fists. Oblivious to the cameras capturing every moment, he yells and gesticulates madly in joy and celebration. He is very nearly overcome.
And well he should be, for though he is not the one who swam the race or the one who will soon have a gold medal to hang around his neck, he still shares in the victory. And because he shares in the victory, he shares in its glory. His celebration displays his involvement, it exhibits the fact that Titmus would not have triumphed had it not been for the attention, commitment, and expertise of her coach. Though it will be her name that goes in the record books, the victory belongs to both of them.
And just so, God arranges life in this world so that rewards are dispensed not just to the conspicuous few, but to the unseen many. There may be one pastor in a church who will receive the Lord’s commendation for his many years of faithful service. But surely God will not overlook the deacons who served every bit as faithfully, albeit in different ways. Surely God will not forget their diligence in “serving tables” so that their pastor could be fully committed to his ministry of Word and prayer. Surely God will not overlook the pastor’s wife who so lovingly supported her husband with her prayers and blessings. Surely whatever reward he receives will be gladly and joyfully shared with the ones who enabled him to serve so well.
I think of an old author who labored for many years to provide the church with books that would provoke and challenge, that would teach precious, needed truths. Though he sat in solitude in his study day after day and year after year, he did not work alone, for he had a secretary who served as his right hand. Whatever results the Lord brought about through those books, surely she shared in them for the way she supported and enabled him. He could not have done it without her, so surely the results are hers as much as his.
I think of an old missionary who ventured to distant lands and founded a ministry that proved powerfully effective in reaching men and women for Christ. Yet the funds that supported him had come entirely from a small number of philanthropists. While this missionary has had his name recorded in the annals of history, and while he is the subject of many biographies, their names have long since been forgotten. But there is no doubt that as they stand together before the Throne, they share equally in the joy, in the triumph, in the victory of that ministry and all the good it brought about.
No great accomplishment, no great triumph, no great success in the history of the Christian church, or the history of your life or mine, can be attributed solely to the individual who receives the acclaim. Though some may go unrecognized here, they shall be commended by the one who sees and knows all things. The ones who sow shall rejoice as much as the ones who reap, the ones who supported as much as the ones who accomplished. Those who shared in the labor shall share in the results, and share in the reward.