Each year, March Madness lives up to its name, as seemingly impossible upsets mark the first two full rounds of the NCAA Men’s Tournament, and this year is no exception. Georgetown was upset by Florida Gulf Coast. New Mexico lost to Harvard. Gonzaga lost to Wichita State. Ole Miss knocked out Wisconsin. LaSalle beat Kansas State. One by one, the giants of college basketball were brought to their knees by little guys who, well, just weren’t supposed to be able to do that. It is part of what makes March Madness so maddening—and part of what makes it so enchanting. There are five or six teams that could well become this year’s Cinderella (though Florida Gulf Coast has the inside track). But for every Cinderella, a giant bites the dust. Fallen giants have, this year, become unexpectedly expected.
When the children of Israel, following their years of slavery in Egypt, first eyed the land of God’s promise, they sent 12 spies into the land to check it out. Upon their return, 10 of the spies urged the people to pass by the land and forget it, saying:
The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight (Numbers 13:32b-33).
They felt deeply their own inadequacy—especially when measured against the inhabitants of the land. Grasshoppers against giants is normally a formula for defeat, and the 10 spies made that clear in no uncertain terms. However, the other two spies—Joshua and Caleb—knew that giants and grasshoppers were not the whole story. In Numbers 14:9, they affirmed that “the LORD is with us. Do not fear them.” Joshua and Caleb had confidence that the children of Israel had a resource that more than made up for their comparative inadequacies.
Like them, we also face giants. Like them, we are also inadequate. But also, like them, followers of Christ share that great Resource who can overcome all our inadequacies with His sufficiency. As Paul told the church at Corinth:
We have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God (2 Corinthians 3:4-5).
With the sufficiency of our God going before us, there are no giants that are greater than His power and His care for His children. Paul asked the Romans, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). The answer? Nothing, not even the giants of life.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain