Have you ever had a job or a day or a season of life that you thought might never end? Well, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut are in the middle of playing a tennis match that might not ever end. As of yesterday evening, they were all tied up 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 59-59. For those of you who don’t follow tennis, let me just say that’s the most absurd score I’ve ever seen. Usually a set goes to six games. But in the fifth set you have to win by two games. They’re now tied at 59 games a piece in the sixth set. It is easily the longest recorded match in Wimbledon history. The play, over ten hours of it, has been suspended twice for darkness and will resume sometime today. It’s remarkable that one of the players hasn’t simply passed out from exhaustion or simply given up out of despair. What will be the reward for the eventual winner? More tennis! When it’s all said and done, regardless of who wins, this match will go down in history as a great testament to two competitors’ ability to persevere.
This match stands out not only for it’s uniqueness in the tennis world, but also for the great contrast it provides to life as we normally experience it. We live in a world that increasingly seeks to define excellence only in terms of immediate results. What can you accomplish today? Can the coach turn the team around this season? Can the new CEO make a profit for shareholders this quarter? Our fast paced world seems to have given up on viewing perseverance as a mark of greatness. We want success and we want it now. If something takes too much of our time, we think it’s not worth doing.
And yet, the greatest things in life require not an abundance of skill so much as an abundance of perseverance and stick-to-it-ness. Take for instance love. We often think the greatest loves are those that come with the most emotion or the deepest feelings. But perhaps the greatest loves are those that simply do not give up. Mother Teresa once wisely commented, “Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.” The apostle Paul put it another way, “Love . . . always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers – Galatians 6:9-10.