"And [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart." - Luke 18:1
Even as football season is coming around the home stretch, basketball is getting cranked up. One of the most colorful basketball people in my lifetime was Coach Jim Valvano. Coach V, as he was fondly called, died of cancer. However, before he died, one of Valvano's most memorable motivational speeches was delivered February 21, 1993 at Reynolds Coliseum on the basketball court of North Carolina State University during the ten year commemoration of the University's miraculous, 1983 NCAA men's basketball championship. It was during this speech, celebrating the team he coached, that Valvano stressed the importance of hope, love, and persistence, which included his famous quotation "Don't give up, don't ever give up."
Jimmy V's oft-seen-and-quoted speech is universally celebrated as one of the greatest-ever encouragements, even challenges, that people ought to never, never, never give up.
His speech was less about his overachieving, underdog, championship basketball team and more about battling overwhelming illness, as was his cancer. And his speech was a call to live life with joy and hope, even when circumstances are insurmountably difficult.
But let's be honest.
There is only one way to have the spirit and strength that Valvano referred to, and that's through faith in Jesus Christ. When Jesus told the disciples "a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1), Jesus was calling them not to dig deeper into the extremely shallow and helpless human soul. Instead, Jesus was calling the disciples to believe in the infinitely deep love and grace of God, which is perfectly revealed in the cross and resurrection of Jesus.
Friends, what is overwhelming and seemingly insurmountable in your life? To be sure, like Coach V said, "Don't give up; don't ever give up." But you will find the strength and spirit to do that, not by looking in yourself, but by looking to God and God's Son, Jesus Christ, who will give you God's own strength to hope and endure because God himself will not give up. God will never give up on you!