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Sports Spectrum Daily Devotional: Friday, January 15

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” — Zechariah 4:10

One Point at a Time

While watching the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament, I witnessed one of the most inspired and incredible comebacks I’ve ever witnessed in sports. Croatian player Borna Coric was taking on top-10 player Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece. Tsitsipas was up two sets and serving for the match at 5-1 in the third. Coric’s chances looked highly unlikely as Tsitsipas’s service game began.

Incredibly, Coric began to string some points together and proceeded to break Tsitsipas’s serve. Pretty soon, it was 5-3 after Coric secured the break. Again, Tsitsipas went to serve for the match a second time. Again, Coric broke him. Before long, the match was back on serve at 5-5 in the third. Coric went on to win the set. Then the fourth set. And then the fifth set. Game. Set. Match.

Those watching could hardly believe it: Coric had been completely dead to rights in the third set and was just a handful of points away from losing, but somehow he’d been able to turn it around and go on to win the match. It was an improbable comeback to say the least. For three straight sets, Coric had played inspired tennis, pulling off a stunning upset nobody saw coming just a short time before.

And how did he do it? By playing literally one ball, one shot, one point at a time.

That’s all he could do.

Climbing out of such a deep hole seemed impossible, but the impossible soon became possible because he focused on what he could control, which was simply winning the next point. And the next. And the next.

We all find ourselves in similar situations, be they in competition or in life. We either put ourselves in, or life puts us into, deeply discouraging and impossible circumstances where a hopeful, winning outcome appears unlikely. We stare at the situations and wonder how we’ll ever mount a comeback and get out of them. It’s easy to get discouraged and begin to feel down on your luck. Coric could’ve easily given up and just thought, “Here — have the match.” But he instead chose to believe. To still have hope he could come back. And he told himself that the match wasn’t over until it was over. There was always a chance until the last ball was struck.

The same is true for us, too. Great turnarounds in life are begun by simple, faithful steps. Comebacks always start by a personal choice to believe and then play the next point. Take the next step. Do the next right thing. Zechariah 4:10 (NLT) says, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” God is delighted and pleased when you hang in there with His plan for your life and don’t give up even when things look bleak.

Take a lesson from Coric when you’re tempted to be discouraged and give up hope: You’re never out of the fight in life unless you take yourself out, so stay with it. Your chances might seem improbable now, but you’ll never know what might be possible unless you keep on playing the next point.

— Katherine Singer

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