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Sports Spectrum Daily Devotional: Wednesday, September 11, 2019

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” — Romans 5:3-4


Before this year’s Wimbledon tournament, most of the world had never heard of a young, rising tennis star named Cori “Coco” Gauff. After accepting an invitation from the All England Club to come and play the qualifiers leading up the major tournament, Coco pulled a stunning upset in the first round of Wimbledon, beating her childhood idol, Venus Williams. After backing up her win over Venus with yet another victory, the world was suddenly on Coco watch.

But the performance she will be best remembered for, regardless of what her future in tennis may hold, was her third-round match. Down a set and a break with Slovenia’s Polona Hercog serving for the match, Coco proceeded to save three match points and get the break back, eventually winning that set and forcing a deciding third set — in which she eventually claimed what seemed, at one point, to be an unlikely victory. 

Fans of tennis, as well as the sports media in general, were astonished at this young lady’s composure and mental toughness. It’s difficult for any player — even the great ones — to turn around a match that seems so destined for loss. But somehow, Coco just kept telling herself that she could do it. She just kept fighting for every point. Just kept her head in the game and her heart in every stroke. And she won more than just the match — she won over the hearts of people everywhere. 

Sometimes simply putting out your racket and striking the ball in the face of seemingly hopeless situations is what it’s all about. Rallies begin with one hit, one shot, one point at a time. The little things. The little victories in the face of seeming defeat become the seed-bed for bigger victories later. The small decisions you make every moment, every day, to keep fighting, to keep living, to keep working and putting in the effort, to keep getting better, to keep loving, to keep serving even when you aren’t sure if it’s going to pay off — those decisions are the making of you and who you become. 

The Bible reminds us to take heart when we’re up against challenging and seemingly hopeless situations. It even calls us to rejoice when we’re faced with trials and difficulties, “knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…” (Romans 5:3-4). Knowing too, that the testing of our faith produces patience and, when we let that patience have its work, we become steadfast and complete (James 1:2-4). 

You may be up against some seemingly insurmountable difficulty today. And you may feel inadequate to handle it. I’ve been there before, too. But let me offer this word of encouragement to you: just keep playing the next point in front of you. Keep doing the little things faithfully, even when you don’t feel like it or think it’s going to do any good or turn anything around. Breakthrough happens in time. In His time. So just be patient until it comes. 

— Katherine Singer

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