15th May 2022

The underdog’s tale

One of the most famous story plots in history is the tale of the underdog. From the oldest story of the slave who turns out to be royalty, to the modern sports movie about the unlikely heroes who never let go of their dreams—we resonate with those on the bottom. A narrative about a child of privilege who simply goes on to be an adult of privilege would be less interesting than a grocery list.

There has to be loss, risk—a tightrope the underdog finally makes it across into the promised land. This story resonates with all of us no matter our background.

Hanna, the mother of the prophet Samuel, was one of these biblical underdogs. She suffered from barrenness, which was a great stigma in the ancient world. When she was finally blessed with a child she sang her famous prayer:

‘The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.’ 

1 Samuel 2:4-5 (ESV).

The underdog theme, the upside down-ness of God’s miraculous work runs throughout it. The weak become the strong; the barren are pregnant; the poor are brought from the back alleys to the head table.

Throughout redemptive history, this story appears again and again. God confounds our strata of who matters, who’s important, who’s powerful. The underdog becomes the superhero.

The same kind of song is picked up centuries later by another underdog:

‘he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty’. Luke 1:52-53 (ESV).


This is the Magnificat, the song Mary sings early in her pregnancy with Jesus. She’s an unwed teenage mom from a country backwater—she couldn’t be more of an underdog! And she becomes the most famous woman in history, and God uses her to confound the world.


And so we see that still at work in our lives. God uses the least likely to break his kingdom into the world. How many times have we been thrown off by a child or a person with special needs and reminded of life’s fragility and beauty? How many times have we seen God speak through a person who seems to offer nothing else?


God not only loves the underdog, but through the centuries he often plays his song of life through the least likely instruments—are we listening?

Presented by Greg Williams


About the presenter:
Greg Williams is President of Grace Communion International and lives in North Carolina, USA. Word of Life each Sunday is taken from ‘Speaking of Life’, (https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/), a public resource video on the USA website of Grace Communion International

Local congregation:
You are welcome to attend one of our local church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation check on our website, www.gracecom.church under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

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