Hope Beyond the Underdog Story

I’m a sports guy. I love playing, watching, following and reading about sports. I usually find myself on ESPN.com multiple times a day, checking in on the latest sports news. My favorite sport is football, but what I love about any sport is that anything can happen, anybody can win, at least once. Obviously there are favorites and those who are expected to win, but in the end we’ve all seen how the underdog has emerged the victor. This makes for great games, instant classics.

What is it about the underdog, the unexpected winner, that draws us to cheer for them? Why do we rally around the team that doesn’t really have a chance in the world to pull out the win? I believe it is because, deep down, we recognize ourselves as the “underdog,” the one that doesn’t have a chance in the world. The odds are stacked against us; we are all but doomed to fail. Some of us face significant financial problems – lingering debt and unexpected bills are a constant thought on our minds, never letting up. Others face difficult family situations – aging parents who need constant care, teenagers attempting to express their new sense of independence, marital issues that just never seem to resolve. Perhaps your career hasn’t taken off the way you planned or expected. Instead, you are stuck in a job you have to put up with instead of enjoy, everyday reminded of how life didn’t pan out the way you dreamed. All of these struggles (or any one of them) can be debilitating and leave us feeling hopeless.

Life is full of disappointment and misery. We would all love the opportunity to win big – not just in the sense of the lottery – but to just win at something, anything. That’s why we cheer on the underdog in sports, because if they can do it, if they can pull off the unbelievable, one in a million victory, then maybe we can too. However, these wins offer a fleeting and very temporal comfort. Yes, there will be other underdogs and Cinderella teams, but they usually fade out and disappear. Where then is our hope to be found?

The only hope that will last forever is hope in Jesus Christ. In fact, by the world’s standards, Jesus was the ultimate underdog story. As the world saw it, he came from nothing, a mere carpenter’s son from a small village in Galilee. He lived a very simple life, traveled a lot but drew a large crowd. In the end, He went up against the religious establishment of the day and (seemingly) lost. They had him crucified! He was dead and gone. Or so thought the “victors.” As we all know, Jesus arose from the dead, turning the tables on the religious establishment and, more importantly, he conquered death for all mankind. His victory, literally becomes our victory.

I Corinthians 15:56-57 talks about the sting of death being sin. In this world we are trapped by sin, we experience the effects of sin all around us. All of our struggles are a result of sin. But because Jesus came and died for us, because he achieved victory over sin and death, and because the grace of God is so magnificent, we are victorious.

Our hope can be in something far greater than a one-and-done underdog team. Our hope is in the Savior of the world, if we place our faith in Him. He is the only one that can save us from ourselves.

So go ahead and root for the underdog, get caught up in the drama and excitement, but remember the one who gave his life for yours in order that you might have eternal victory from sin.

Jared Burkholder serves as the Youth Pastor at Bethel Bible Fellowship Church in Emmaus, Pa. He is married to Megan, they are blessed with four beautiful and creative daughters. Jared enjoys teaching teenagers about God, the Bible, and how to respond to the world around them. In his free time, Jared enjoys woodworking, gardening, and reading. Each day he is thankful for the wonderful grace of God in his life.

More From This Author