Many of us enjoy watching what happens on the basketball court during March Madness, the annual NCAA basketball tournament. This year’s tournament, that started on Thursday, has seen several favored teams lose in either the first or second rounds.
Some of you may know that a big upset occurred this past weekend as the 9th seeded Northern Iowa Panthers beat the number 1 seeded Jayhawks of Kansas in a thriller, 69-67. Many sportscasters had Kansas as the favorite to win the overall tournament. President Obama picked Kansas to win as well. However, the young men of Northern Iowa pulled off a big upset.
Today, during an interview of Northern Iowa’s coach, Ben Jacobson, the coach made it a point to say that it’s in the preparation for the game that the game is really won. He made this point three times. He told the folks on CBS who conducted the interview that it’s the practice that prepares his players to be able to play the kind of games that they play. I think most any coach would say the same thing about the importance of the preparation period.
Trials of Life
It’s also in the preparation times of our faith that help us to be able to handle the tough times, the trials, of our lives. When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer over three years ago, I wrote an article for the local paper about how my faith was a anchor in this health storm of my life. My faith was able to be an anchor during this storm because it prepared me to cope with the adversity that cancer can bring to one’s life.
My “preparation” was hours of quiet time with God. It was hours spent reading the Bible. It was hundreds of Bible study sessions with my small group of men. It was hundreds of thoughts thinking about God and his nature and his truths. It was hours spent in church listening to pastors teach the Word of God. These things along with many others prepared me to get through my trial.
It’s in these same ways, and many others, in which we all are better prepared to live the game of life that we all find ourselves in. And life certainly can offer many trials, but it’s in the trials of life that we have an opportunity to grow and become better people. It’s in the trials of life that we have an opportunity to grow closer to God.
The more prepared we are for our trials, through living out and practicing a strong faith, the better able we’ll be to handle those trials, just as Northern Iowa was better able to play, and win, their game with Kansas on the basketball court.
Questions to Reflect On:
What was the last big trial in your life that your faith prepared you to endure?
What aspect of your faith helped prepare you the most for this trial?
Scriptures Related to Trials and Preparation
The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him. Nahum 1:7
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. Jesus in John 16:33
These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:7