That episode led me to think, even then, about winning and losing and God's will.
My son's winning of the spelling bee was definitely a God event. Why would I say that? My son had no control of the words asked of him. He knew most every word that he was asked to spell, unless they were on the unpublished list or on another grade's list. So what's the big deal? He did not know all the words that the spell master gave to the contestants; he just knew most every word that he needed to spell. For example, one of his classmates was in the eighth grade spelling bee also. She was doing well until there was a word that was given her that she had not studied. Why didn't she study it? The teacher from our school accidentally left out a half page of words. So, neither she nor my son had studied those words. The spell master gave one of those words, and she got it wrong. As far as I know, my son never was given a word from that missing paper, but she did. (By the way, I was wondering the rest of that eighth grade contest if he would be given one of those words, and he wasn't.)
Some people might call this luck, but I don't believe in luck. It was a God event. It was God showing his grace to my son which proceeded out of God's sovereignty ruling the world.
Whatever the contest, whether it is Monopoly, basketball, Uno, Bingo, or whatever, God is at work in the winning and the losing, even if it is my wife's favorite game Dutch Blitz. No matter the contest, there are aspects of the game that the contestant has no control of, so how did the person win? To me there is no doubt, it is a God thing.
But let me tell you also, my son put himself in a position to win. How did he do that? He studied. He knew the words. He could rattle off every spelling word on his list. I am sure there were people at the spelling bee who did not do that work. (Many moons ago I was in a spelling bee and did not work at it, and I stunk.) In other words, God didn't have some people win because they didn't even strive to win. They didn't put themselves in a position to win. No matter the game or contest I have seen this happen, and I am sure you have also. There are people and teams who through much practice put themselves into a position to win, but others who don't, so they won't. The exciting contests occur when two contestants have put themselves in a position to win.
In summary, even if we work hard, we cannot control whether we win or lose. There are often outside factors beyond our control that determine who wins or loses. Winning or losing is often a "God thing." However, what we do control is whether we put ourselves in a position to win through hard work, study, and practice. If we don't work hard at something, why should we expect to win or even ask God to win.
By the way, I have a pastor friend who teaches this as a life concept. Don't expect blessings from God if you don't put yourself in the right position to receive them. Wrestle with it.
I praise God for the gift he gave my son. I also praise my son for the work he did. God used my son's work to do something marvelous.