On March 16th, 2018, coach Tony Bennett and his Virginia Cavaliers men’s basketball team made history by losing to the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, thus becoming the first #1 seed to ever lose to a #16 seed in the NCAA tournament.
The potential for embarrassment and scrutiny could not have been higher, but Coach Bennett’s post-game words at the press conference showed a man of class and grace. At first, I was upset that something horrible like this could happen to such a man and coach of character. Just the day before I had a shared a post on Facebook from Sports Spectrum that highlighted the following words from Coach Bennett: “I have great things in my life-my love for my wife, my love for my family, my love for coaching, my love for basketball. Those are wonderful things, but when you line them up in comparison to Christ and the relationship you have with Him, with what He’s done for you and with that He’s given you, they don’t compare. That’s the greatest truth I know.”
As I continued to see his post-game words retweeted and shared on Facebook over the weekend I began to realize that maybe this was a good thing. Maybe this was an opportunity for people to see that who you are as a person is more important than winning and losing. And maybe it is an opportunity to show that the greatest truth Coach Bennett knows, and the promise that God gives each of us, does not change whether we win the championship or lose an embarassing game.
We can’t only praise God for the wins.
When God says that He has plans to prosper us and not harm us, what He means is that through what Christ did for us and through His promises we can have a calm inner peace to handle everything that is thrown at us. He is talking about prospering us with internal rewards, not external rewards.
It doesn’t mean we won’t feel emotions. I’m sure Coach Bennett and his players felt a variety of emotions after all the effort they put into doing something they love and falling short. But no matter our level of talent, resources, or confidence, we will experience adversity at some point. God doesn’t promise to take away all our discomfort. He promises to give us a reason to be strong enough to deal with any disappointment. And that reason is Jesus Christ.
He also promises that we do not have to do it alone. In times of great disappointment or adversity like Coach Bennett’s historic loss, this is an opportunity for us to open ourselves up to God’s love, strength, and guidance.