“poor, nasty, brutish, and short”

Thomas Hobbes (the fellow not wearing a New York Knicks uniform) may be best known for this quotation from his work Leviathan: Life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short…a warre of every man against every man.”

This might be seen as an argument for liberty, but is actually an argument for the social contract of an ordered and (relatively, especially given his times) liberal state.

Regardless of political theory, it is clear that for the vast bulk of humanity, life is and always has been just as Hobbes described. What does this have to do with current NBA phenom Jeremy Lin? Just that one of Lin’s favorite Bible verses concerns how we ought to deal with these realities of life. From Romans 5:

3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

I’m not sure I’d have written “rejoice” in our sufferings, but I am sure that I lack many of St. Paul’s virtues. My view is to tolerate suffering as best we can, knowing that Christ suffered for us. Suffered far more than any of us can truly comprehend. We take our hope from that suffering and the glory that it led to. And we must know that in comparison our suffering is small.

Jeremy Lin is clearly not suffering at the moment. Yet if he truly knows that what goes up must come down, at some point he will no longer be the subject of public adulation. But I’m not worried for him. Jeremy Lin seems to be a disciplined yet hopeful young man. Given his rocky start in professional basketball (not drafted; cut from teams; riding the bench), his harshest test may be in his future: having achieved great fame for his skills, losing the spotlight if his skills are found wanting.

My sense is that Jeremy Lin, grounded as he appears to be in Scripture, will deal with defeat with grace. Grace enabled by his faith.


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