Bob Tamasy: Everyone's A Potential Comeback Story

  • Monday, June 17, 2024
  • Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Comebacks. They are among the most inspiring, heart-tugging parts of the human experience. Someone who’d accomplished some things of note, then encountered major setbacks before overcoming those challenges to achieve greatness again.

Nowhere are comeback sagas more plentiful than in the world of sports. Tiger Woods’ victory in the Masters golf tournament in 2019 immediately comes to mind. After reaching the pinnacle of professional golf, he’d gone through adversity in many forms. Then, after years of struggle, Woods compiled a championship weekend to don his fifth green jacket.

My personal favorite comeback story – if you’ll indulge me for a moment – occurred on Oct. 13, 1984. On that date my alma mater, Ohio State, had fallen behind visiting Illinois 24-0 early in the second quarter. Since the Buckeyes had been upset by Purdue the previous Saturday, fans feared the worst.

But the Scarlet and Gray staged a memorable comeback that included an amazing 67-yard touchdown run by running back Keith Byars, who lost a shoe on the way to the end zone. At game’s end, the scoreboard read: Ohio State 45, Illinois 38.

But we don’t have to be gifted athletes, or even avid spectators, to experience the thrills of a comeback. When we’ve messed up – really messed up – as we all have at one time or another, the God of mercy and grace stands firm, eager to restore and use us, sometimes in ways far beyond anything we could have imagined.

How do we know this? Because in the Bible we find story after story of people who, with God’s enabling power, were able to rise above shattered lives to be used by Him in wonderful, sometimes unlikely ways.

For Exhibit A, we can offer Joseph, the fair-haired son of Jacob. His father not only gave him a “richly ornamented robe” (Genesis 37:3) – known in other translations as the “coat of many colors” – but Joseph also boldly told his brothers of two dreams in which they would be bowing down before him. Not exactly the way to win the siblings’ popularity contest.

In a fit of jealousy, the brothers stripped Joseph of his robe and threw him into a cistern, then sold him to a passing caravan of merchants. Sold to Potiphar, a high-ranking Egyptian official, Joseph was making the best of a bad situation when falsely accused of sexual assault by Potiphar’s wife and thrown into prison. In essence, out of the Egyptian frying pan and into the Pharaoh’s fire.

However, that’s not the last we hear of Joseph. God providentially puts him into a position to become second-in-command in Egypt, answering only to Pharaoh. The one-time boastful brother becomes the instrument to save not only his family but also God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel, during a time of severe famine. He was named “Comeback of the Year” by Hieroglyphics Monthly.

Then we have Moses, a Hebrew raised in the household of another pharaoh. He was enjoying a royal life until forced to flee the country after killing an Egyptian in defense of a fellow Israelite. For the next 40 the one-time Egyptian prince performed the humbling duties of a sheep herder.

God decided that was enough time to prepare Moses. One day while leading his flock on Mount Horeb, “There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush” – a bush that to Moses’ surprise did not burn up. Having his attention, God commissioned him to lead a different flock, the people of Israel, after four centuries of slavery in Egypt.

A truly humble leader – Moses asked, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11) – God used him and his brother, Aaron, to accomplish the unthinkable.

There are numerous other examples in the Scriptures, including King David, the prophet Daniel, the apostles Peter and Paul, and others. In each case, the formula for making a “comeback” was simple: Humility; repentance; and determination to surrender to God’s will, no matter what it required.

Why should this matter to us? Because each of us is a potential comeback story. Perhaps you (or someone you know) grew up in a ‘Christian home’ where you attended church regularly, learned about Jesus Christ, read and studied the Bible, and yet have drifted away from the faith. After years of trying to make life work without God, it’s evident that isn’t working.

Is it possible to return? Read Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). The Lord didn’t present the story of a father’s unconditional love for his wayward son for its entertainment value. It was to convey the eternal Father’s eagerness to welcome back those who have strayed for whatever reason.

Or perhaps at one time you were walking closely with the Lord, having a strong impact in the lives of others, but then became “burned out.” You took a spiritual “vacation” that has lasted a lot longer than you originally intended. Now you wonder whether God can ever use you again.

I can think of no more encouraging Scripture passage than the words of King David after confessing his adulterous sin with Bathsheba. He prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit” (Psalm 51:10-12).

For anyone in need of a spiritual comeback, the Lord is always ready with two words: “Come back.”

* * *

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is btamasy@comcast.net.

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