"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15
The Mark of a Champion: Turning Disappointment into Victory
I recently wrote a post about the so called “problem of evil” and how Christians should view it. Well, as a youth pastor I get to see this played out in varying degrees in my ministry. Sometimes people respond to challenges well, sometimes they don’t. Today, I thought I’d try to encourage you by telling you a quick story of a young man in my youth group who is handling some adversity remarkably well. Now, this adversity isn’t like facing cancer or the death of a loved one or anything like that, but it is still a big deal for him at this time in his life.
This student comes from a family of VERY talented wrestlers (one cousin was a 3 time state champ and another one was 4 time state champ… His daddy was also a great wrestler and is now one of the coaches in our area). So, safe to say, wrestling is in his blood… It’s been his long-time dream to be a 4 time state champ as well – a dream that not only seemed possible, but quite likely as at the beginning of the season the main newspaper in our state picked him as a favorite for his weight class… All that changed one tournament at the very beginning of the season when he was severely injured by an illegal move.
Of course, his parents sought out the best medical care they could find, but he kept getting mixed messages from the doctors – the reality was they couldn’t be sure how quick he could recover from the injury and as the season progressed it became more and more doubtful that he would be able to get in enough mat time to seriously challenge for state (if he got to wrestle this season at all).
Did God want him to suffer this injury? Was He using the evil of the blatantly illegal move and the injury that resulted to produce some greater good in this young man’s life? As we’ve seen from previous discussions, God does not cause evil in our lives to serve His purposes (God is Holy and thus wholly innocent of all evil)… However, He is also sovereign and thus any random and pointless evil/adversity that affects our lives is ultimately allowed by Him… James 1 and Romans 5 both tell us to rejoice or glory in suffering and trials – Why??? Because trials offer us an opportunity to “test our faith.” They reveal what we really believe about God and ourselves… There are 2 basic choices every time we face difficulties: Become Better OR Become Bitter.
We Become Better when we rely upon God to sustain and comfort us – He then can take the lemon-ness of the bad circumstances and help us turn it into something resembling lemonade (though the lemonade may still be fairly sour) – He does this by helping us grow in our perseverance (James 1), by giving us an opportunity to know and trust Him more and increase our Hope (Romans 5), and by opening the door to be a comfort and witness to those around us (2 Corinthians 1).
We Become Bitter when we allow ourselves to wallow in self-pity… when we let a natural sense of anger against the situation (and maybe even God) cause us to hold a grudge against Him… when we focus on the circumstance and/or its adverse affects and try to lay blame on everyone and everything else because of them.
Though there was much discouraging news and times of deep disappointment this freshman strove to keep pressing on and, even more so, to keep his mind focused on the right perspective: Through the encouragement of his mom, he kept asking, “What can I learn from all this? What do I NEED to learn?” He petitioned the elders of our church to pray over him (cf. James 5:13-16) – but not just for healing, but that he would maintain a righteous example for those around him – It was a very powerful time and no one left the room untouched by the Spirit of God.
Well, the healing didn’t come as quick as anyone would have hoped for… He still struggled through therapy and rehab and wasn’t released for even light work-outs until just a couple of weeks ago… Then, he was allowed to wrestle with the JV and took 2nd in his only JV tournament just last week – which is a major disappointment for someone who was previously picked to win state, especially since it was so close to the tournament he has to place in to qualify for state… Still, though, he has been relying upon God and striving to keep a positive outlook and a live as a solid example of faith.
Tomorrow this upstanding teenager is going to wrestle in regionals (the qualifying tournament for state) in his first varsity action since the injury… and He is going into it hoping to display aspects of Zechariah 4:6-7: To compete – Not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit of the LORD Almighty… He will attempt to level a very large mountain for the Glory of God.
In my humble opinion it doesn’t matter if he loses every match tomorrow… This is because in light of how he continues to handle himself, he is already a champ in God’s eyes… and mine!
"Really!?" moments, Encouragement, Holy Spirit, Ministry, Modern Parables, Spiritual Growth, The problem of Evil Answering God's Call, applying the bible to life, Bible, Did God allow this?, Disappointment, Faithfulness, Highschool, Highschool Athletics, Injury, James 1, LORD Almighty, Might, Missed Goals, Missed Opportunity, Moving Mountains, Pain, Perseverance, Philippians 4:13, Power, problem of evil, Romans 5, Sorrow, Spirit, State Champ, State Championship, Victory, Victory over the Darkness, Witness, Wresteling, Zecheriah 4