by Brock Weigel
Read Psalm 31: 9-16
“For my life is spent with sorrow and my years with sighing; my strength has failed because of my iniquity, and my body has wasted away.” (Psalm 31: 10)
While playing basketball, the goal is to get the ball through the hoop as many times as possible. When I play, however, that goal is not on my mind. Instead of maneuvering the ball, my goal is one-upping the other team, or showing off for spectators. I care as little for the ball going through the hoop as plugging a lamp into an electrical socket. The task itself seems mundane when you remove the context. My joy in basketball is not in the ball, but in the victory.
Sports for Splendor
Millions of people will attest that they enjoy basketball – either directly, through television broadcast statistics, or by wearing a jersey. We openly enjoy one-upping each other in a sporting arena. This one-upmanship deluges also into other facets of life. One thing that continually surprises me about humanity is our desire to figuratively out-suffer somebody else. For instance, you might hear a student complain, “I have to write three essays tonight.” Instead of sharing each other’s yolk, there is always one student who has to chime in: “You think that’s bad? I have to go to work at midnight and take a midterm tomorrow!” We react similarly about the Lenten Season. “You gave up chocolate? Well I gave up all desserts.”
A Contest of Calamity
Why on earth would we ever want to win a suffering contest? It seems that our desire to outperform others encapsulates everything from sports to suffering. In Psalm 31, David highlights his anguish, covering everything from his fading eyesight to his weakened body. From my viewpoint, David is beating me in the suffering championship. I’ll gladly let him take that victory.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:17 not to let others know of our anguish. “When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face.” Whether I give up chocolate, television, or Facebook, Jesus gave up more.
Brock is a junior at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia where he is a Bailey Scholar.