“April showers bring May flowers.”
In a literal sense, that’s true. As winter makes its exit, the sun and rain collaborate like paramedics administering CPR to resuscitate nature. Flowers bloom, animals emerge from hibernation, and grass looks greener on every side!
That old adage remains true in a figurative sense. April 2020 has brought heavy storms into our lives–financially, socially, academically, professionally, and personally. Economically, we’re experiencing a major drought because social distancing keeps us inside our homes and away from businesses.
Nature has an annual comeback, and we wonder when we will experience ours. It’s hard to imagine a comeback in the midst of fear and uncertainty about the next few months. Comebacks after the coronavirus will look differently for each person, but they will happen if we adopt the right mindset! Here’s a look back at two major comebacks that occurred during the month of April.
Tiger Woods Wins the 2019 Masters Tournament
After 18 holes at the 2019 Masters Tournament, an event that PGA Tour professionals play annually at the beautiful course of Augusta National Golf Club, then-43-year-old Tiger Woods had only a 3% chance of winning, according to Data Golf. At the end of Round 1, Tiger sat four strokes back at 2 under 70 behind frontrunners Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau. By the end of Round 2, Woods sat one stroke behind five major champs, which included Koepka, Francesco Molinari, Jason Day, Adam Scott, and Louis Oosthuizen, and tied with other Tour players and US Open champ Dustin Johnson. On Saturday, Tiger climbed up to second place. Other professionals closed in.
Many sports analysts predicted that Tiger would never win another major. Between 2014 and 2017, he had undergone four intensive back surgeries; he’s also had four knee procedures. In 2017, just one month after his most recent back surgery–a spinal fusion–Tiger became dependent on painkillers and was arrested for driving under the influence. During his recovery, he struggled to get out of bed and questioned if he’d ever play professionally again. But in 2018, he called himself a “walking miracle” as he returned to the Masters for the first time since 2015.
Tiger made his comeback during the final round of the Masters in 2019. At this point, he had never won a major when trailing after 54 holes. However, after several pros found water at the 12th tee, Tiger slowly transitioned from the chaser to the chased and stole a victory at 13-under, just one shot ahead of Johnson, Koepka, and Xander Schauffele.
Tiger didn’t win this tournament overnight. He overcame painful injuries and personal scandals before he sunk in his last putt, threw his arms in the air, and hugged his family. The last time Woods had won a major was in 2008 at the U.S. Open. (Put that into perspective, Tiger had an almost one-year-old daughter–she is now 12, and he also has an 11-year-old son.) Now, at 44-years-old, Tiger Woods has 82 PGA Tour wins under his belt, including 15 major championship wins, just three shy of tying Jack Nicklaus’s record for the most majors. When golf returns this summer–we hope!–Tiger will look to defend his green jacket at the Masters, which the PGA has pushed to November.
Important lesson: Don’t let age, scandal, or injury become a permanent setback or prevent you from making a comeback. Ever.
Jesus Christ Rises from the Dead
On Good Friday, millions of Christians around the world commemorated the crucifixion of Jesus Christ that occurred 2,000+ years ago. On Easter, they celebrated His resurrection and the comeback that lay within His empty tomb. Despite some contradictions in the gospels about who was at the empty tomb, the crux of the story remains the same in all four gospels.
On Sunday morning, a small group of women discover that Jesus’s body has disappeared:
“While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” (NIV, Luke 24:4-6).
According to the Bible, Jesus lived a sinless life–He was perfect! That’s one reason the religious leaders of His day loathed Him and His teachings and why they convinced one of Jesus’s friends to betray Him. Shortly after, Jesus was arrested and nailed to the Cross. There, people mocked and spat on Him as He suffered a slow, agonizing death by asphyxiation and exhaustion. The comeback is that He died for all the sins of humanity and triumphed over sin and death!
Get this, Jesus suffered on the Cross for six to seven hours–that’s as long as Round 4 of the 2019 Masters Tournament!
Note some other similarities between Tiger and Jesus (I’m not talking about walking on water, though maybe Tiger could walk on water if his back felt good). Both have large crowds that follow them, crowds composed of fans and haters. People mocked and doubted these two, though they continued to pursue their missions because they understood what they needed to do. Tiger had to sink long putts–like, 37-feet-long–and Jesus went right to the Cross to take our sin. He wasn’t feet away from death–He actually died–and He’s not feet away from anyone today. He’s ready to give us all a comeback from the coronavirus. I’ll say amen to that!
Important lesson: Comebacks usually don’t transpire overnight, so have patience and faith.
Get Ready to Come Back!
I am optimistic as much as I am realistic. Of course, we still don’t know as much we’d like to about the coronavirus. Hospitals still report cases of treating patients with COVID-19. Restaurants and other businesses remain closed, which has crippled our strong economy. Over 20 million Americans have filed for unemployment. Cities and states continue to enforce stay-at home and mask orders. Grocery stores still have empty shelves and filled parking lots. Concerts and sports have yet to resume, and the latter will likely return without spectators. On a personal note, my grandfather lives in an assisted living facility in Fargo, North Dakota, that hasn’t allowed visitors since March. He turns 99 in a few days–imagine missing that birthday!
Here’s where I am optimistic.
People love a great redemption story, and we’ve been part of many. Both Tiger Woods and Jesus Christ endured setbacks and hit rock bottom but ultimately had a comeback mindset. Tiger loved golf and competition and Jesus loved imperfect people like us enough to ignore critics and instead persevere. While many wondered what if, they thought why not. Consider: what comes to mind when you hear “Tiger Woods” or “Jesus Christ”? Do you regard these figures as comeback heroes?
Their comebacks can become ours, too. No, I’m not referring to COVID-19 coming back. Come on! I’m talking about our comeback in our personal lives and as a nation. Just because we’re six feet apart doesn’t mean we can’t reach out to family and friends to uplift each other, share words of encouragement, and offer to pray with someone. Your comeback may start small. It may begin with you helping someone else make a comeback.
I am reminded of President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 presidential inauguration speech: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
What will you do for your country, for others, and for yourself? How will you write your comeback story?