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What's the best part of March Madness? There's so much to choose from. There's the sheer volume of basketball, especially the first few days. There's the high stakes: Every game means a lot. There's the fun of picking brackets, trying to figure out which teams will make it past each round. But for me, and for a lot of people, the best part is the upsets. Florida Gulf Coast and La Salle in the Sweet Sixteen! Harvard over New Mexico! Who woulda thunk it?
Everybody loves an upset — everybody who isn't on the receiving end, anyway. There's something immensely heartening about evidence that superior talent can be overcome by heart, focus, strategy and maybe a good break here and there. This goes not just for sports, but for any part of life. Upsets tell us that we're not helpless before the vast, impersonal or (sometimes) malevolent forces that seemingly run this world. They give us hope to fight on against the odds.
As much as most of us love to root for an underdog, there's no reason to think that the side that pulls the upset is necessarily the more virtuous side. But when that is the case, it's especially inspirational. Scripture is full of what appear to be upsets to those who don't know what God is planning. David slays Goliath. The Israelites repeatedly defeat mightier foes. And then there's the biggest upset of all, Christ himself — God coming to us not as an awe-inspiring king but as the infant son of a simple girl and her carpenter husband, and conquering not through an angelic army but through death on a cross.
So it goes, too, with the apostles who carry on His work:
For consider your calling, brothers: Not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God (1 Corinthians 1:26-29, ESV).
Much of the time in this world, we have to get by without seeing upsets. God's people must strive in the knowledge that in the end, God will bring final victory, but in the now, we'll often lose. We must do what's right not because we might succeed, but simply because we're called to be faithful. Lost causes can be the best causes.
Sometimes, though, God favors us with reminders that lost causes aren't truly lost, even in this world. Can you think of any examples of upsets that you find inspirational?
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This is a good word, and it's encouraging me where I'm at. It's easy to look at sinful human activity and think "Well, they've got it won." But God has the last word for all His children who seek to obey Him. So thank you.
Sorry, no inspirational story, but this reminds me of a verse from "A Mighty Fortress is our God":
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
Often times I think we as Christians can look at the true underdogs of society, and not want to be a part of their ascent to victory. God not only loved the underdog, he specifically chose them over and over! We need to see the underdogs as God sees them, potential victors!
I think that God is definitely teaching me to love the underdogs. Love as in seek them out to be their friend if they are friendless, always be true to them even when they're not true to you. It's tough, but the end results are amazing! What an amazing God we have!!
The bishops who lead my church come from Rwanda. The first time I met them, it hit me so hard how these men are the antitheses of everything culture says we're supposed to strive to be: they come from a tiny, impoverished country still reeling after years of genocide, the only time we'll hear mention of Rwanda on the news is if something horrific happens. And there we all were, a bunch of white Americans, looking to these men for spiritual guidance, authority, and leadership. Where else would you ever find something like that? It was an amazing picture of the last coming first.
"The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes."
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