“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).
The summer Olympic trials caused me to wonder: Why would the athletes willingly inflict pain on their own bodies during grueling training? What motivates them to endure the pain?
Imagine them reading the following sign when they were young:
Wanted—People Who Are Willing To:
• Subject their body to strenuous exercises while ignoring exhaustion.
• Be willing to endure the pain and possible injury.
• Remove all distractions and rid themselves of any personal desires which would divert attention from the goal.
• Invest all their free time (year after year).
• Adhere to the highest standard of healthy eating.
• Pay the high cost.
• Plan on living with pain.
Now hear them eagerly saying, “Sign me up!”
What were they thinking? Only the elite earn the privilege of competing in the trials.
They were willing to commit their entire lives, time, money, and bodies to win the prize, in hopes of obtaining the gold.
My trial involves pain in my body. This isn’t a trial I earned and certainly wouldn’t have volunteered for. Yet, I have lots in common with those Olympic hopefuls.
As God’s athlete, I can endure pain and exhaustion by:
• Keeping my goal in mind
“So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” (2 Corinthians 5:9).
• Focusing on the prize—the gold streets in heaven
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12).
• Fighting the good fight
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7).
• Trusting my coach
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2).
In spite of all their training, they make mistakes and struggle. Yet, they pick themselves up and continue–while still smiling. If they can do that, surely with God’s help, so can I!
Prayer: Merciful Father, Show me how my current suffering can be used for Your glory and for Your kingdom today. Help me experience victorious living through You. Maintain my desire to live for my eternal rewards rather than earthly pleasures. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
About the Author:
Vicki understands special needs as a patient, parent, and professor. She has had multiple sclerosis since 1993. Her 31 year old son was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. She’s taught special education as a teacher, administrator, and adjunct professor. Through her online community she reaches out to other parents of children with special needs. http://theblogfrog.com/1505794
What has encouraged you from the summer Olympics so far? Have you compared how they endure the pain athletically to how you endure the pain of illness? Do you ever grow wearing of trying to endure the pain? How do these scriptures above encourage you to keep on keeping on?
Here are some inspiring moments from past years of the Olympics.