Arthur Ashe, born on July 10, 1943, was a seven time Grand Slam finalist with three champion titles and four runner-ups. Many critics and sport commentators named him as one of the greatest tennis player of all times. But tennis wasn’t his only fight in this world. He was also known for his role as a civil rights leader, especially on Apartheid issues.
Around 1983, when he was undergoing his second heart surgery, he apparently contracted HIV during the blood transfusion. This illness later led him to his deathbed.
Now, the story got interesting when one of his fans wrote him a letter asking something like, “why did God have to select you for such a bad disease?” His idol was the great tennis player, the respected activist, the pride of America, the inspiration for the Afro-American youth. It was unthinkable for anyone that he should receive such treatment from God. If anything, he should be rewarded for his deeds rather than be punished with HIV. Remember, in the early nineties, AIDS was far more scary than it is today because of the lack of information for common folks and people with AIDS received far worse treatment from the society as compared to today.
So the man, in his fifties at the moment, answered,
“listen, 50 million children around the world start playing tennis,
5 million learn to play tennis,
500,000 learn professional tennis,
50,000 come to the circuit,
5,000 reach the Grand Slam,
50 reach Wimbledon,
8 reach the quarterfinals,
4 to the semifinals,
2 to the finals.
When I was holding the cup, I never asked God, ‘why me?’
So why now in pain should I be asking Him, ‘why me?'”
This kind of faith reminded me of the faith of Job. As we all know, Job had a very bad day at the moment his wife came to him (probably remembering how devoted Job was to his God but yet this kind of misfortune fell upon him) and said, “do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” Just like Ashe’s fan. And there, we witnessed Job answered, “shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?”
God is good all the time. May this story be a blessing for us all.