What do you do when the odds are stacked against you? When nothing you do seems to work? When losing seems inevitable?
Ask the UCLA football team.
Ask the Tennessee football team.
I have been up later than usual the past two nights watching college football. Sunday night Norma Jean said, “Are you watching football?”
I told her since we lived in Texas and almost everyone at church was a Texas A&M fan, we owed it to our brethren to watch the game. I’m not sure she bought that. But we watched for a while. Until the score was 24-3. And A & M was dominating. Then we watched a Hallmark movie. Occasionally, I would peek back and see little had changed. Except A & M was running up the score.
After the movie, I switched back to see the score and A&M was ahead 44-24. Norma Jean said, “Are you coming to bed?” “Let me see if UCLA scores on this possession.” They did. Hmm. Then I thought “If A&M scores on their possession, it’s over.” They didn’t.
Painfully for my Aggie friends, A&M blew a 34 point lead and UCLA won in the final seconds 45-44.
Last night, though not as dramatic, Tennessee never led the entire game against George Tech until they went ahead in the second overtime and won the game 42-41.
The post game interviewers asked the winning coaches how they did it. Their answers were similar. “We just keep working.” “We believed in each other.” “We didn’t quit.” Both coaches spoke of being resilient. Fearless. And persistent.
These qualities that characterized improbable wins for both teams are qualities needed in life. In our homes. In our communities. In our churches.
As Christians, we are engaged in a fierce battle against “the wiles of the devil… For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:11-12).
It is a battle against worldliness. Carnality. Sensuality. Immoral relationships. Greed. Pride. And vulgarity. We are combating spiritual indifference. False religion. And antagonism against Christianity. We are engaged in a conflict with “fleshly lusts that war against the soul” (1 Pet 2:11).
What can we do?
Instead of giving up, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (1 Cor 16:13).
Instead of giving up, “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1Cor. 15:58).
Instead of giving up, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph 6:10-11).
It’s difficult at times. In fact, it seems like when life gets tough, the next thing we know it gets tougher.
Are you fighting a spiritual temptation and the devil seems to be winning?
Is there conflict in your marriage and the solution seems impossible?
Are you facing financial challenges that appear insurmountable?
Are you in a church where no one seems to care about your problems?
Have your family and friends let you down?
Have you fallen into the pit of discouragement? Or depression? Or even despair?
Do you feel like you’re behind 3 touchdowns in the fourth quarter?
If so, don’t quit. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Don’t give out.
There is hope There is help. And God cares. (Ps 32:20; Ps 71:5;1 Pet 5:7)
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman