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‘The luckiest man on the face of the earth’: Lou Gehrig and the triumph of character over circumstances

Dr. Jim Denison is the CEO of Denison Forum.
His Daily Article and podcast globally reach over 160,000 subscribers. Dr. Denison guides readers to discern today’s news—biblically. He is the author of multiple books and has taught on the philosophy of religion and apologetics at several seminaries. Prior to launching Denison Forum in 2009, he pastored churches in Texas and Georgia. He holds a Ph.D and a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jim and his wife, Janet, live in Dallas, Texas. They have two sons and four grandchildren.

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'The luckiest man on the face of the earth': Lou Gehrig and the triumph of character over circumstances
New York Yankees' Lou Gehrig, the "Iron Horse," wipes away a tear while speaking during a sold-out tribute at Yankee Stadium July 4, 1939. Gehrig's record breaking career was cut short by neuromuscular disease. (AP Photo/Murray Becker)

Lou Gehrig was one of the greatest players baseball has ever seen, with a career average of .340 and a World Series average of .361.

In 1934, he achieved the “Triple Crown” of baseball, leading the league in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in. He appeared in 2,130 consecutive games, setting a record that stood until it was broken in 1995.

Then, in 1939, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a horrific malady that has come to be known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. On May 2, he took himself out of the Yankees’ lineup and never played baseball again.

On July 4 of that year, Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day was held in his honor. At that event, the soft-spoken player made a memorable speech in which he claimed to be “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” He died two years later at the age of thirty-seven.

The triumph of character over circumstances

Lou Gehrig reminds us that our character is not dependent on our circumstances. Even in these difficult days, with coronavirus infections spiking and the recession continuing, we can find peace that transcends this moment and hope that lasts forever.

Such peace and hope, because they are not of this fallen world, are powerful witnesses to it. When people see us trusting Jesus in good times, they assume that such faith comes easily to us. But when we trust him in the worst of times, they know that our faith is powerful for us and relevant for them.

Across God’s word, we are invited to trust him for the peace that only he supplies. In today’s First15, Craig Denison cites these examples: “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3); “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust. I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56:3–4); “Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name” (Psalm 33:21); “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

Then Craig states: “God’s heart is to fill you with peace. He longs for you to have all the fruit of the Spirit dwelling within you. He has consistent, constant peace available to you. But you must trust him in every area of your life. You must hand over the reins of your relationships, job, identity, and plans to your Good Shepherd. You must trust that he will guide you perfectly into an abundant life.”

We can trust God with our circumstances and challenges, or we can trust ourselves. But we cannot do both.

Choose wisely today.

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