Sports Spectrum Weekly

Sports Spectrum Daily Devotional: Thursday, December 12

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” — James 1:2-3

Come Up Smiling

A number of year ago, I had the pleasure of attending one of the most unique sporting events I’ve ever been to — the Veterans Wheelchair Games. The national sporting event is treated much like the Olympics with an opening and closing ceremony, and a week’s worth of adaptive sporting events geared for veterans and active military members who require a wheelchair to compete athletically.

There was wheelchair softball, track races, swimming (for those confined to a wheelchair, complete with adapted times and race distances), wheelchair rugby, and wheelchair basketball. It was a truly inspiring scene to see so many who had suffered injuries or life circumstances that had changed their quality of life, going out and competing as hard as able-bodied athletes and loving the experience. They were happy to simply be alive and live life large.

One of these athletes was named Chuck. He had lost both of his legs while serving in the Middle East and was competing in wheelchair basketball. Now, you’d think these guys would go easy on each other given their medical needs, but that’s definitely not the case when you watch them go at it. There is full-on wheelchair smacking, crashing and intense competing when these guys play. It’s all permitted and nobody seems to mind. What’s a little pain, right?! 

More often than not, Chuck, who would leave it all out on the court when he played, would end up on the floor, having been ditched from his chair when somebody ran into him. Time and again, I watched Chuck laugh it off, get back into his chair and keep going. Chuck always came up smiling. I’ll always remember that. 

Life knocks us down frequently, doesn’t it? Sometimes, it feels like we spend more time on the floor than in the game. But what do we do when we’re knocked down? Do we wallow in self-pity and ask, “Why me?” Do we claim injustice or unfairness at what has happened to us? Or do we choose to laugh it off and come up smiling? 

James 1:2 tells us to count it all joy when we’re met with trials that come our way. It reminds us that the testing of our faith in the events of life produces patience, completing and perfecting our character. But do we let that character show through when things get hard? The choice is ours as to how we get back up when we fall and are knocked down. As a friend of mine likes to say, “Life can make you bitter, or it can make you better, and I choose to let it make me better.” 

So what do you choose? You can’t control the things that happen to you in life, but you can control how you respond to them. You can’t predict when you’ll be blindsided by adversity and suffering. But your attitude is truly what makes the difference. It sure did for Chuck.

I hope you’ll choose to come up smiling. 

— Katherine Singer

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