Do you know what it means to be an underdog? Dictionary.com defines an underdog as someone “who is expected to lose a contest or struggle; one that is at a disadvantage.” We live in a culture that loves to root for underdogs. We especially love to do this in sports.
One of the greatest underdog sports stories in history took place during the Cold War in the 1980 Winter Olympics. The United States national team (made up of amateur and collegiate players) defeated the Soviet Union national team (which had won the gold metal in six of the seven previous Olympic games) in a medal round game. Team USA would go on to win the gold medal that year, while the Soviet Union took the silver medal. In 1999 Sports Illustrated ranked “The Miracle on Ice” as the biggest upset in sports history! It is a great story of an underdog defying the odds and experiencing victory.
Did you know that there are great “underdog” accounts also found in the Bible?
- For example, there is the account of a little shepherd boy named David who had the courage to go out to battle against the Philistine giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17). All of Israel (including King Saul) was afraid to fight Goliath, but David had faith that God would give him the victory. He said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:37). For many that day it appeared that the young boy David did not have a shot of defeating the over 9 foot tall experienced warrior. But, with the blessing of God, David used a smooth stone and sling shot and knocked Goliath out. He then took the giant’s sword and cut off his head. When the Philistines saw their great solider defeated they fled in great fear.
- There is also the account of Gideon leading the army of God to victory against the Midianites (Judges 6-7). Before sending Gideon’s army out to battle, God first dwindled down the number of Israelite soldiers from 32,000 to just 300. God used these 300 men to defeat several thousands. Through this experience God wanted to teach Israel to depend on His power and not their own (Judges 7:2).
- In the time of the Roman Empire it certainly appeared that Satan was getting the best of the people of God. Christians were constantly being martyred because they were unwilling to worship the emperor as “god.” This fierce persecution caused some of the martyred to wonder when God was going to avenge and deliver their brethren from their oppressors (Revelation 6:9-11). Satan was certainly trying to do his best to use this world empire to destroy Christianity, but ultimately he would fail. The army of Jesus would prevail (Revelation 17:14). Today the Roman Empire is no more, but the kingdom of Jesus still stands (Daniel 2:44)!
- And then consider the victory of God’s own Son on the cross for the sins of the world. After Jesus was betrayed by one of His own disciples, He went through a series of shameful trials, was mocked, scourged, crucified on a cross, and buried in the tomb of a rich man, it appeared that Satan had won the war. But three days later, on Sunday morning, some disciples went into the tomb and found it empty. Jesus had been raised from the dead (Luke 24:1-12)! His resurrection demonstrated that God the Father was pleased with His sacrifice for our sins and He was in fact the very Son of God (Ephesians 5:2; Romans 1:4). Through the resurrection we are given a living hope that if we follow Jesus’ teaching we can actually be saved and go to heaven (1 Peter 1:3-5). Through the resurrection Jesus defeated Satan and conquered two enemies that we could never defeat on our own – sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:54-57; Revelation 1:17-18).
Every day we face a fierce battle with the devil. He is our greatest enemy and his mission is to seek and destroy us spiritually (1 Peter 5:8). He is a strong enemy and against him on our own we are truly “underdogs.” But as David demonstrated against Goliath, when we put our faith and trust in God, no enemy can stand against us. Not even an enemy as strong as Satan.
Use the next few days to deeply meditate and express thanksgiving to God for the victory you have if you are in Christ (Galatians 3:26-28). Thank God that if you are in Christ, through the death and resurrection of His Son, you have everything you need to defeat your greatest enemy.
– Shawn Jeffries