Ever been on a bad team? I have. It sucks. (Excuse my French). If you haven’t, it’s hard to understand why a bad, awful and abysmal, dreadful and deplorable, deficient and defective team would celebrate every win.
Jimmy Valvano had a marginal team, but he believed in celebrating every win. NC State won the ACC Championship in 1983 and his team received an automatic bid to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. He coached them to 8 improbable wins in the Big Dance all the way to the NCAA Basketball Championship. He may have died from brain cancer, but he knew how to celebrate every win.
You celebrate every win because victories are spiritual. No, I’m not “spiritualizing” sports, again. And yes, I am equating winning with spiritual success. There are too many people in this world who are defeated and depleted, unhappy and unhealthy, and desolate and disconsolate – far, far too many. For these, a “win” of any kind is worth celebrating. And that it is.
Celebrations come after victories of any kind. Any kind. For some, getting out of bed is a victory. For others, saying “no” when they wanted to say yes is a victory. And for many, taking baby steps to conquer a habit or resist a temptation or quit a compulsion is a big deal. And it’s worth celebrating. Some marginal students see a “C” on a test or quiz and they’re ready to storm the field and take down the goalposts. Ask me how I know.
We celebrate every win because on the court, off the field, in the pool, at the rink, around the track, on the padded mat, up on the uneven bars, or just down in the dumps dangling with plain old life, victories are sometimes hard to come by, especially when you don’t have the help that you need. Enter Jesus, the son of Mary.
Jesus came to give us victory, and He came to not only help us win but to celebrate every win with us. Victory, conquest, and triumph all refer to a successful outcome of a struggle. First, victory suggests the decisive defeat of an opponent in a contest of any kind: “victory in battle; a football victory.” Conquest implies the taking over of control by the victor, and the obedience of the conquered. Triumph implies a particularly outstanding victory such as “the triumph of a righteous cause; the triumph of justice.”
This time of year, we rejoice, sing and celebrate the Advent of our Lord. His coming was a wonderful win, a colossal conquest, and a tremendous triumph. And that is why we love to celebrate so much this time of year. But we should not just celebrate at Christmas, we should celebrate every win.
And so the next time you look down your nose at a team, any team, such as the Philadelphia 76ers (2-18) or the Oakland Raiders (2-11) or the team of your choice that is struggling right now, think again. Teams, like people, go through tough times and travel down rough roads. So if you need help to get a win, you’ve got it. And if you already are winning, help someone else to get a win and then celebrate their win with them.