“If you ever traveled on a road with no speed bumps, you’re headed for a dead end.” When Marshall Faulk was inducted into Pro Football’s Hall of Fame last August, he closed his acceptance speech with these words from his late father.
Today’s news is all about those who triumph over adversity. For instance, Elizabeth Smart’s weekend wedding made global news. Why? Each weekend, an average of 44,230 weddings take place. But hers was anything but average. She was kidnapped from her home at the age of 14 and held for what she later called “nine months of hell.” This past Saturday, she and Matthew Gilmour were married in Hawaii. A family spokesman said, “Her wedding further demonstrates that it is possible to rise above challenging circumstances to lead a happy and productive life.”
Here’s another example of our fascination with those who overcome adversity. In yesterday’s NBA games, four players scored more points than Jeremy Lin. But this morning’s sports headlines are all about the Knicks’ point guard, again.
Sunday afternoon, he scored 28 points with 14 assists and 5 steals in leading his team to a win over the Dallas Mavericks. Before the game, Dallas guard Jason Terry was skeptical: “Playing only eight games doesn’t make a career. We’ll see when he faces the champs.” Afterward, Terry was complimentary: “I’m proud of him, watching his journey and where he’s come from. He’s persevered and he’s shown a lot of toughness.”
Why is our culture fascinated by such underdog stories? One reason is that they give us hope–if they could triumph over setbacks, maybe we can as well. But there are stages between adversity and hope. Jeremy Lin says that Romans 5 got him through hard times: “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). God wants to redeem our challenges by using them to develop the perseverance and character that lead to genuine, lasting hope.
What “speed bumps” are you facing this morning? Would you make God the King of your challenges, asking him to help you persevere through them? Would you look for ways to develop Christ-like character in the midst of adversity? If you do, you’ll discover the hope that triumphs over hardships. And your story will inspire those who are watching to see if your faith is genuine.
This passage has meant much to me in recent days: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on to the heights” (Habakkuk 3:17-19). Would you make the Sovereign Lord your strength today?