Sunday night something happened in the NBA playoffs that has never happened before in its illustrious 70 year history.
The Cleveland Cavilers rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the title. In doing so they beat the reigning champion Golden State Warriors who had posted the best record in the history of the league, 73-9.
When the Cavs were down 3-1, ESPN only gave them an 8% chance of winning the title. Golden State was only 1 win away with a 92% of securing the championship. Yet, led by super star, LaBron James, the Cavs beat the odds and achieved something everyone thought impossible.
But isn’t that the way success is in any endeavor. When the odds are unfavorable, no one believes they can be overcome. When something has never been done before, it’s deemed impossible. When the obstacles appear insurmountable, public opinion says, “It can’t be done.”
This story line is a great metaphor for the spiritual struggle we often face. In fact, the apostle Paul often used sports to make this point. He speaks of the discipline of training, the need for endurance, and the focus on the goal that a serious athlete possesses and a dedicated disciple must develop (1 Cor. 9:24-27; Heb. 12:1-3; Phil 3:13-14).
But there is one other quality that is needed in both the sports world and the spiritual realm. Persistence. That dogged determination that will not give up. Give in. Or give out. Regardless of the odds.
Persistence and perseverance endure physical and emotion pain, personal problems, outside pressures, and pitfalls that produce an excuse to quit. There are no hopeless situations,” said Clare Booth Luce, “There are only men who have grown hopeless about them.
Admiral Chester Nimitz remarked, “God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right even though I think it is hopeless.” The famous boxer, Archie Moore, put it pointedly when he said, “If I don’t get off the mat, I’ll lose the fight.”
We all have it within our power to keep on going if we choose to. Joel Budd quipped, “It isn’t the final say so, unless you say so.”
People fail because they allow discouragement to convince them the cause is lost. Successful people in all walks of life stick to their ambitions. Don B. Owens Jr. described those who reach their goal this way.” They refused to be discouraged. The never let disappointment get the upper hand. Challenges only spurred them on to greater effort,”
For Christians the goal is far greater than an earthly championship and a physical trophy. It is an eternal inheritance that is incorruptible. Undefiled. And unfading. (I Pet. 1:3). It is for this reason, Paul penned that “we do not lose heart” (2 Cor. 4:16).
Are you facing an impossible situation? Are you struggling with a temptation? Suffering a physical aliment? Agonizing over a decision? Tackling a tough task? Grieving over a sudden tragedy? Experiencing dire financial problems? Seeking healing from a wounded relationship? Are the odds overwhelmingly against you?
Human strength and resolve coupled with God’s power and providence can produce amazing results and overcome incredible odds. God reassures, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5). And Jesus says, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes (Mk. 9:23).
William Wilberforce was right when he wrote, “Our motto must continue to be perseverance. And ultimately trust the Almighty will crown our efforts with success.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman