Have you ever faced a challenge doubting your ability or believed skeptics when they questioned your chance for success? Personal misgivings and internal questions can keep us from living up to our potential. Consider the underdog or someone who is “written off”. We describe people this way when we do not think they should win or succeed, but they sometimes do. The mention of an over-achiever brings to mind someone who rises higher than most thought they could. And we love a good storybook ending, especially when an unlikely hero saves the day.
I can still remember watching the “Miracle on Ice” during the 1980 Winter Olympics. The United States hockey team, made up of amateurs and collegiate players, defeated the powerful Soviet team. The Soviets had won nearly every world championship and Olympics for the past thirty years. Few gave the American team a chance to even make the game close, but they won despite the odds. Their win was a true “David and Goliath” moment.
While the experts gave the Americans no chance of winning, the players and coach believed otherwise. Coach Herb Brooks told the players before the game, “You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours.” This sentiment was more than mere words and hype. Somehow, in the face of others’ doubts, the team believed and played with confidence. For their win, Sports Illustrated named the “Miracle on Ice” the Top Sports Moment of the 20th Century.
The story of David and Goliath sets a standard for what it means to be a victorious underdog. David was but a youth and had no military experience when he faced the Philistine’s champion. On the other hand, Goliath stood nearly ten feet tall and had proven himself in battles. His physical strength, fighting skill and armor made David’s victory unlikely to say the least. Yet David was firmly confident because he came in the name of the LORD, and by God’s power he defeated the giant (1 Samuel 17).
The Bible speaks of another underdog, written off by most. He achieved more than many thought possible and became the unlikely hero of the greatest storybook ending ever. I am talking about Jesus, The Christ. People made fun of His meager background, education and family (Matt. 13:54-57). They thought themselves better than He and were angry with His confident teaching and consistent life-style (John 7:15-26). Yet Jesus never doubted nor did He allow the skeptics to derail His efforts.
How could Jesus be so strong in the face of such hardship and doubt from others? What was the source of His strength and confidence? I know Jesus was “God with us”, which means He kept His complete Deity on earth. However, while in the flesh He faced temptation, suffered as we do, and put His trust in the Father as we must (Heb.4:15). In short, no matter what Christ faced, He relied on God for assurance (John 5:30-37).
Now think about the work and position of the apostles. Their office and authority were the highest in the Lord’s church. But when you look at the twelve, many came from common and inauspicious families and social positions. Consider Peter, Andrew, James, and John. They did not have the “credentials” most would think necessary for their position and work. Many wrote them off as unworthy and irrelevant, and yet they remained confident and bold in their work (Acts 4:15-21). We still know their names and work nearly two thousand years later.
Saul never lacked confidence, loyalty, or zeal while persecuting the church, and in fact, he was second to none in that effort (Gal. 1:13). Who could have imagined Saul would ever obey the gospel or become one of the Lord’s greatest warriors, yet that is exactly what happened (2 Cor. 12:11-12). Paul’s humility and trust in Christ remains a standard for us today. As a Christian, the Lord became his strength and means for overcoming his own persecution (Phil. 4:13). When you read his letters, Paul was clearly a man of unshakable confidence and whose resolve came from Jesus.
How confident are you in Christ and the status your spiritual life? No Child of God should go through life doubting or wondering about his condition (Eph. 3:10-13). Instead, we must believe in His strength and promises, knowing victory is near. If you lack confidence perhaps the problem is a shortage of trust. Do you believe God when He says the reward is worth the price or when He tells you to sacrifice everything for Him (1 Tim. 4:10)? Trust means that we follow Him no matter what and with indifference to our own wisdom and wants.
We must also learn to believe in ourselves as we rely on Christ for salvation. I understand Divine grace builds the bridge between man and heaven, but we must walk across. That is why Peter said, “Save yourselves from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:40)
One point is for sure, no one ever wins by giving up. Therefore Paul spoke of a correlation between resolve and confidence. He said “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (resolve). And so by doing the hard work we know (confident) that our efforts are “not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). We should not doubt God’s power and mercy, or our ability to do some amazing feats through Him.