HOPE FOR TODAY: Victory through defeat
College basketball fans live for “March Madness”. It is about this time a particular name is remembered each year – Coach John Wooden, the legendary coach of the UCLA Bruins.
He is remembered for the coaching success at UCLA, that most sports historians say will never be matched or likely even rivaled. It is a voluminous set of records. The ones most well known are the ten NCAA national championships in 12 years, 88 consecutive wins over four seasons and 19 conference championships.
Many fans of Coach Wooden would say he had been a winner throughout his entire life. As a player, he won championships in high school and college. As a coach, he had an 81% winning percentage covering 40 years of coaching along with the UCLA championships.
When you look beneath the surface of Coach Wooden’s resume, you can see he was not always a winner. He knew defeat. During the state title game of 1927 for Martinsville (Indiana) High School, he missed a key shot and lost the championship. Wooden says, “Losing that game was the most disappointing thing that happened to me as a player.” He started coaching in 1932 at Dayton (Kentucky) High School. His first season was six wins and 11 losses. It took him 28 years of coaching through the high school and college ranks before he won his first title. Then at UCLA in 1964, he finally captured his first of many national championships.
Victory often requires that we first walk through the doors of defeat. Then we find that which appeared to bring defeat actually launched us through the doors of victory.
Centuries ago, Jesus faced a torturous crucifixion upon a wooden cross. Political leaders, religious leaders, His disciples, family and friends thought He had been defeated. Jesus faced the cross and those around Him with perspective and resolve. When He died, it was a long, dark day. The sense of defeat was all around.
Then Sunday came. After three days, His tombstone was rolled away and He came out – alive! Angels told those who came to His grave mourning His death, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Luke 24:6). Out of defeat came victory. The cross, which looked like it was going to be a symbol of defeat, three days later, became the greatest symbol of victory the world has ever known.
What has defeated you? Bring it to the cross of Christ. Lay your sin, pain and failures before Him in faith. Through Christ, find victory in your defeats. May that be your hope for today.