The 2016 NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers had quite the battle in winning the series last Sunday against the Golden State Warriors. Despite being down 3-1 by the time game five rolled around, LeBron James and his teammates found the will to defeat the defending champion Warriors for three straight games, and made history in the process. The odds-makers were sure that Golden State would repeat since no team had ever overcome a 3-1 deficit. A further hurdle was the fact that Cleveland had not had a major sports championship team since 1964, and had never won the coveted NBA title. The 2016 Champions proved that odds can be overcome and challenges can be conquered.
In the emotional post-game interviews with reporters, LeBron James acknowledged the great struggle he and his teammates had to overcome. It was a deeply fulfilling night for the Cavaliers’ star player who had made it his goal to bring the championship home to Cleveland ever since his return from a four-year stint with the Miami Heat.
Fans in Cleveland had voiced their displeasure with LeBron when he left Cleveland in 2010 to play in Miami. They had felt betrayed and abandoned, and their team suffered its worst seasons without James’ skills and leadership. But, on last Sunday night, all was forgiven as delirious fans celebrated the win in the streets of Cleveland, and hailed their hero, Lebron James.
In 1 Samuel 30, David and his men returned to their campsite in Ziklag to find it a smoldering ash heap, the result of a sneak attack by the Amalekites. Further compounding their distress was the fact that their wives and children had been taken captive by the enemy. The emotional trauma of the moment overwhelmed the tough fighting men who cried until they had no more power to weep. Frustration soon gave way to anger as they then contemplated stoning their leader, David, who had become the object of their blame. David somehow found the strength to encourage himself and inspired his men to pursue the enemy in the process.
There are powerful life lessons in both the Biblical account of David and his men, and in the championship quest of LeBron James and his teammates:
1) Never make a permanent decision in a temporary situation. Down 3-1 in the finals, LeBron could have concluded that the odds were too great and the championship run was over. David could have given in to his despair and considered suicide when his men turned against him.
2) There are times when the help you need lies deep inside of you. When you are playing on your opponent’s home court and thousands of fans are screaming and booing to distract you, it takes incredible focus and internal fortitude to stay true to your game. David was able to retreat from the unnerving sounds of mutiny around him and seek solace and encouragement in spiritual communion with God.
3) Acknowledge God’s presence and power at work in your life. LeBron opined that God (the man upstairs) must have intended for the Cavaliers to take the hard road to the championship. David looked to God for direction concerning a mission of recovery and was inspired to pursue.
4) Setbacks can turn into comebacks. The Cavaliers’ heroic effort paid off, winning them the championship and great respect in the world of sports. David eventually caught up with the Amalekites, recovered the kidnapped families and returned with the spoils of war.
May you and I find the courage to face our obstacles, confident that we can overcome them, and may God enable us to do, with His aid, what we cannot do on our own.
Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.