There are many ways to lose a basketball game, but this isn’t usually one of them.
The Brown University Bears were playing the Bryant University Bulldogs last Monday night. There were 3.8 seconds left in the game when the Bulldogs’ freshman guard took a pass and dribbled out the clock. (For non-basketball fans, that means he bounced the ball until the game ended.) Then he tossed the ball into the air and started celebrating.
There was just one problem: his team was behind at the time. Because he didn’t know the score, they lost a chance to win the game. (For video of the shot that wasn’t, go here.)
This isn’t the only “how to lose” story in the news today.
The presidential recount effort spearheaded by Green Party candidate Jill Stein continues to make headlines. According to Fox News, Stein has received twelve times more coverage from ABC, CBS, and NBC than during her entire campaign for president. Time reports that she raised twice as much money for her recount effort as she did during her presidential bid. Critics decry the recount effort as a publicity-seeking waste of money.
Meanwhile, two NFL teams are in the midst of double-digit losing streaks. While they have a way to go to tie Tampa Bay’s all-time record of twenty-six straight losses, Cleveland and San Francisco fans are already looking forward to next year.
How we handle adversity often says more about us than how we handle success.
Legendary Dallas Cowboys Coach Tom Landry is an example. I Remember Tom Landry is a wonderful memoir filled with remembrances from Landry’s family, players, and colleagues. Danny White, who played quarterback at the end of Landry’s coaching career, recalls the speech Landry gave before the last game he coached.
It was at the end of the 1988 season. The Cowboys won fewer games that year than any season except their first year in the NFL. Landry told the team, “This has been a crisis year for us, but you’ve got to understand that when you face a crisis, the way that you handle the crisis is more important than the result of the crisis.”
White responded, “I’ve never forgotten that because with all the wins and the great record he had, I think we learned more about him when he lost than we did when he won because the man could lose with dignity and character.”
The first Christmas illustrates our theme. Those who witnessed Jesus’ birth were peasants and shepherds who occupied low rungs on the social ladder of their day. The King of kings was born in a cave and placed in a feed trough. While angels celebrated his birth (Luke 2:13–14), the rest of the world ignored the event.
In other words, Jesus knows how adversity feels. He felt exhaustion (Matthew 8:24) and thirst (John 19:28), loneliness (Matthew 26:38) and grief (John 11:35). Now he is praying for us (Romans 8:34) as we face our challenges today.
In Jesus Calling, Sarah Young suggests that needing Jesus is the key to knowing Jesus. Do you know how much you need him?
NOTE: For more on faith and adversity, please see my latest website article, Quarterback quits football: “I need my brain.”
Publication date: November 30, 2016
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