What a wild, wacky, wonderful weekend of college basketball. The NCAA Men’s Tournament has provided incredible comebacks, thrilling upsets and historic wins in the past four days.
After a 134 losses by a #16 seed to a #1 seed, UMBC stunned and actually stomped by the overall #1 seed Virginia, who was the favorite by many experts to win the championship.
Michigan State, a #2 seed, was upset by #11 Syracuse, who had to win a play in game just to make the tournament. MSU also was picked by many to win it all.
Texas A&M, a #7 seed, toppled the #2 seeded defending national champions North Carolina, in a game that I think even surprised Aggie fans.
Last night the Florida State Seminoles were out of it. They looked disorganized and disoriented at times. Xavier was in control. And led by 11 with 8:40 left in the game. But FSU wasn’t out of it. They began a comeback, took the lead with 1:09 left in the game and won by 5 points.
Loyola of Chicago, a #11 seed, won both games against higher seeds by hitting the winning baskets in the last 5 seconds of each game.
But the most incredible win of the weekend was #7 Nevada’s improbable comeback over #2 Cincinnati after being down by 22 points with 11 minutes to go in the game. Their first lead in the entire game was the winning shot with 9 seconds to go.
These incredible comebacks and stunning upsets serve as a vivid metaphor for facing life’s problems and challenges. Especially for Christians who must feel at times that Satan is winning.
The demise of our culture is discouraging and disheartening. School shootings. Mass murders. Moral depravity. Disintegration of marriage and the traditional family. Political corruption. Tension between nations. Corporate greed. Racial division. The ascendance of anti-Christian bigotry. Pornographic filth masquerading as entertainment. And too often a pious hypocrisy that exacerbates the problems instead of solving them.
We wonder, “Where is God?” “What is He doing about this mess?” “Why are we hurting?” “Where are we going?” “When will it all end?” “How can this moral morass ever be reversed?” “Why are we on the losing side?”
Don’t despair. The game is not over. God’s people will be victorious. In fact, these basketball comebacks and victories are insignificant and infinitesimal compared to what God can do.
When the children of Israel were mired in Egyptian slavery, God called Moses to the rescue. Pharaoh scoffed at Moses’ bold demand, “Let my people go.” But he underestimated the power of God. Ultimately Egypt’s army drowned in the Red Sea. And the Israelites were free at last.
The thrilling account of the conquest of Canaan in the book of Joshua details one improbable victory after another. Later when Israel strayed away from God, He was willing to raise up a Deliverer when they repented, and defeat their enemies.
Is any nation able to mock God and hope to win? Ask ancient Israel. And Judah. Ask Assyria. Ask Babylon. And Greece.
Then think of the ascendancy of the powerful Roman Empire whose influence spread across the known world. When first century Christians were being persecuted by ungodly, pagan rulers, like Nero and Domitian all seemed lost.
But the message of Revelation offered hope to those martyred saints who cried, “How long O Lord until you avenge our blood?” The rider on the white horse prevailed. Rome fell. And the Kingdom of God still stands.
For those today facing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual trials, there is help. And hope. God knows your struggle. He feels your pain. He cares about your plight. And He will provide a way of escape. In His time.
While it may feel like evil is ahead and going to win, the devil and His forces are destined for defeat. Improbable as it may seem at times, righteousness will win. Christ guarantees the victory. “Do not lose heart.”
Don’t give in. Don’t give up. Don’t give out.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, 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).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman