The thrill of victory is the only mitigation for the agony of defeat. The joy and gladness of triumph is the only salve for the sorrow and setback of sadness. Gladness displaces and disposes of all feelings of gloom and doom, and is the only freedom from foolishness and folly. The “madness” of everyday life can leave you absolutely blitzed, bonkers, batty and bananas.
The remedy for madness? Going to church is recommended and reading the Bible is just fine, but for the next few weeks, over the course of the entire month of March, I suggest that you watch every game you can during “March Madness;” this tonic will assuredly have your faith in the impossible renewed.
“March Madness” or “the Big Dance”, for those who don’t know, is the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship; a single-elimination tournament played each spring in the US, currently featuring 68 college basketball teams, to determine a national champion. The tournament was created in 1939 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and was the idea of Ohio State University coach Harold Olsen. This one and done, winner-take-all tournament gives hope for all teams, and by extension all of us, especially those who are long-shots, a chance to rise from Cinderella’s rags to her subsequent riches and become overnight sensations.
Before the “madness” even begins, sadness, however, will replace gladness if Wichita State now, 30-0, looses everything before winning it all. The Wichita State nickname is “The Shockers” and they did just that as they became the first team in college history to start a season 30-0 in the regular season on Tuesday by beating Bradley 69-49 on the road. What’s more, sadness will intervene before gladness sets in if the second-ranked Shockers loose today, as they have a chance to finish the regular season undefeated if they defeat Missouri State at home.
Gladness or joy is the ultimate goal, and going undefeated is not a bad way to get there. History tells us that the 2003-04 St. Joe’s Hawks were last Division I college team to finish the regular season undefeated, going 27-0 before losing in the A-10 Conference tournament. The last team to start 30-0 in a season was the 1990-91 UNLV Runnin Rebels who advanced to the national semifinals before losing to Duke and finishing 34-1.
If you’re sad or mad, exchange those emotions for one better; turn them into gladness. March Madness has all of the ingredients of all three. High highs and low lows. Top ranked teams tumbling and no-name teams rumbling. And isn’t the Big Dance just like life? A combination of sadness and madness on the way to gladness, or unspeakable joy. You and I have had some very sad days and have lived some very maddening ways. But God has a way of turning madness and sadness into gladness, just like that. David’s testimony was this: “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy” (Psalm 30:11, NLT).
So, if you’re going through a difficult divorce, a maddening marriage, a tough time, or just having a rough ride, watch as Cinderella teams who wear “rags” get invited to the Big Dance; watch as the Davids of college Basketball throw their five smooth stones at the Goliaths of the basketball world; watch as the underdogs take on the top-dogs, and watch as they come tumbling down. Watch and I assure you that your faith will go towering up. This is one way that God combines theology and sports; this is one way He “appoints unto them that mourn in Zion, and gives them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:3, KJV).
I assure you that you will go from madness to sadness to gladness.