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Sports Spectrum Daily Devotional: Friday, May 31, 2019

“But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” — Hebrews 10:39

Rewarded Pain

It was the 2019 BNP Paribas Open tennis final at Indian Wells. Three-time major champion Angelique Kerber was going up against a relatively unknown teenager named Bianca Andreescu. Prior to this season, Andreescu had been ranked outside the top 100 in the world and wasn’t considered serious competition at all. Now, she had played herself into the top 50 to start the season, had shocked everyone by beating two top-10 ranked players already in the year, and found herself in the final against a highly-favored veteran of the sport.

Andreescu quickly got down a break in the third set, causing her some serious frustration as Kerber elevated her game. Andreescu’s coach came out to talk to her during the break and help calm her. Breathing hard and holding back tears, she told him, “I’m so tired! My feet are burning, and I can hardly move …What am I supposed to do? She’s getting to everything!”

The coach proceeded to not give her advice about her game but rather to infuse her with courage. Andreescu then added, “I want this so bad.” She then went out and won the next four games to grab the match from Kerber. Fighting through cramps so intense she could barely move, she won the first big title of her young career.

In sports and in life, a willingness to endure must override the adversity incurred on the journey. The same is true in the Christian life. God does not promise us an easy road during our time here on earth, but He does promise us that our suffering will not be in vain, and that our endurance has great reward. There will be moments and seasons where, like Andreescu, we feel as if we can’t go on anymore. But at that point, is our desire to gain Heaven greater than our pain here below? Is our desire to please God bigger than the difficulty we are currently facing?

Hebrews tells us “we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved” (Hebrews 10:39). For the Christian, the outcome is secure, but battles must be fought along the way. We must be refined and re-made. And this can only happen if we are willing to go with God through the hard things — to trust Him and do His will, even when we want to quit. 

I don’t know what difficult things God is asking you to walk through today. But I do know that He’s given you the promise of His presence in the midst of them and, like the coach, He is right there to offer you His strength. He has placed His Spirit within you to give you all the grace you need to keep pressing forward.

So don’t give up. Your victory is in sight.

— Katherine Singer

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