Good Theology From A Horrible Season of Tarheel Basketball

I am a die-hard Tarheel fan. I was raised a Tarheel from as long as a I can remember. I have enjoyed the thrill of victory in watching the Heels take down the Fab Five of Michigan, show that they were a better "team" than the Fighting Illini, and absolutely mop the floor with Michigan State led by Psycho-T.

I have also suffered through the agony of defeat. I remember attending a UNC/State basketball game at Reynolds Coliseum as a freshman at NC State [I know that doesn't make sense, but this was before God converted me ;) ] and UNC came into the game as the number one team in the country behind the talent of Vince Carter and Antwan Jamison. And we lost that game and as the entire student section poured out onto the court, I remember myself and a friend that was standing beside me, in our Carolina attire, being the only ones left standing in the seats. And I remember the dismal tenure of Matt Dougherty and the first time I remember us not making the NCAA tournament and not winning 20 games in a season along with a host of other records halted.

But this season has been the most difficult as a Tarheel fan because the badness of the team is just unexplainable and no one seems to have an answer for it. We're not going to make the tournament and probably shouldn't even be an NIT team. This is the first time I have ever seen a UNC team with no senior leadership and that has progressively gotten worse as the season crawled along. I don't even change my plans to watch the games anymore, because I just don't want to watch it.

I enjoy reading Adam Lucas of Goheels.com. He is a great writer and offers great insight following both victories and defeats. He has a great article this morning following a pathetic loss to Florida State last night. Lucas recounts his fatherly advice to him as a young boy suffering through a Carolina loss, "You have to sit through the bad ones to enjoy the good ones."

Lucas writes,

The truth is, we don't sit through many bad ones as Carolina basketball fans. No one feels sorry for us. You know that, right? They love this. They are downright gleeful that for three months out of our lives, we're experiencing what it's like to be everyone else. We're even having to talk about...next year...If you're a Tar Heel, in most years sitting through the bad ones means that maybe six or seven times a season, you're miserable. This year is different. This year, now that I'm a father and don't want to risk raising my son to be the same weirdo/person that I am, I'm having to come up with different ways to answer the question, "Daddy, did the Tar Heels win last night?" at the breakfast table each morning after a game.

Lucas then reminds us of the bad that Raymond Felton and Jawad Williams went through before winning a national championship,

Both left Carolina as national champions, which means when they return to Chapel Hill they are kings. They played through the bad ones to get to the good ones, and both would tell you even today that the ending was a little bit sweeter because of the way it all began.

What does all of this have to do with good theology? I think a strong case can be made from Romans 9:22-24 that God's purpose in the bad/sin/suffering in the world is to make the good that much better and that much more glorious for His people, those who trust in Christ as Savior-- "...in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy..."

This would also seem to be logically the case as well from our experience in life. Good health is that much better because of the reality and experience of bad health. Abundance is that much better because of the reality/experience of poverty. And the glory of God's grace and goodness is all the better and much more enjoyed because of the reality/experience of evil and suffering and sadness.

Therefore, as a follower of Christ, whatever suffering you are going through, one of the purposes of God in it is to make you appreciate the deliverance better and ultimately, in eternity, to enjoy the glory of God's grace better. And so as our family continues to endure this time of trial for us, it is good to be reminded that you have to sit through the bad ones to enjoy the good ones and also to know that God is sovereign over both the bad ones and the good ones.

Let me sum things up from a great line from The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones. Towards the end of the book, speaking of the end of the Book of Revelation and the coming of the New Heavens and New Earth, she writes,

One day, John knew, Heaven would come down and mend God's broken world and make it our true, perfect home once again. And he knew, in some mysterious way, that would be hard to explain, that everything was going to be far more wonderful for once having been so sad. And he knew then that the ending of The Story was going to be so great, it would make all the sadness and tears and everything seem like just a shadow that is chased away by the morning sun.

As a Tarheel fan and much more importantly, as a follower of Christ, we have to sit through the bad ones to enjoy the good ones. And so we endure, knowing that next season is coming, another place of service will open up, and one day there will be a New Heavens and a New Earth and we will enjoy our King forever!

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