The Apostle Paul says: “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” (Romans 5:3-4) I’ve been really reminded of the latter part of this phrase, particularly yesterday, particularly in the world of sports.
I’m not real sure about the suffering part (although I believe the players and team suffered mightily through the years and years of practice they put in to bring them to yesterday).
What I am sure about is the endurance and character that allowed the USA team to keep trying, keep hoping, and keeping doing their best in order to pull out a must-have goal to win their group against Algeria in the World Cup 1-0 in added time.
And what about that unbelievable Wimbledon match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahout that lasted three days and went for 138 games in the 5th set of their match.
Now that’s endurance, fueled only by character that lead to the hope of eventually winning. And it’s obvious that Mahout had just as much character and hope as Isner had. Both of those players undoubtedly suffered long hours of practice in awful weather, to get to the place where they could keep it up for the 11 hours on the court.
What can I say about the TCU Baseball team who were losing 7-3 to Florida State in the 8th inning of their game in the College World Series?
Instead of giving up, they drew on the endurance and character they developed by suffering through long hours for practice, and many, many games to pull off an 8-run inning winning by the score of 11-7, to advance to the semi-final game with UCLA. Their hope of a title is alive and well.
Now I know that God doesn’t step in and affect the outcome of any sporting contest (Friday night coach’s prayers to the contrary). But that doesn’t mean we, as Christians, can’t take a lesson from these events where athletes pull victory from the jaws of defeat.
In the baseball movie “For the Love of the Game”, Kevin Costner plays Billy Chappell, an aging pitcher on the verge of retirement, who finds himself in the bottom of the 9th inning of a perfect game. He’s old and his shoulder is aching. He was once a great pitcher. His team has been sold, and he’s been told he’s going to be traded at the end of the season. Standing alone on the mound, he prays this little prayer, “Lord, you know I promised never to involve you in something as trivial as a baseball game, but if you could see your way to clear to take away the pain in my arm for just a half an hour, I would surely appreciate it.”
And isn’t that what we all want and pray for, just a little strength, just a little more endurance, just a little more hope to get us through to the end?
Very nice post.
Hope is so important for getting up everyday. Thanks for reminding us that it’s okay to pray to God while hoping. I think I get a little nervous about it wondering, am I asking for additional help or am I asking for the outcome to be controlled by God (like the Friday night football coach).
I think that’s often our problem with asking God to help us fulfil our hopes. I always have difficulty asking for healing, think I must always qualify it with “No as I will, but as thou wilt”. And yet we are told to ask and keep asking for our wants. One of the great dicotomies of the gospel.