Sports Spectrum Weekly

Daily Devotional: Friday, July 1 - A Heart To Overcome

“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

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It was unexpected, to say the least. Most people never saw it coming but, when it happened, felt it was well-deserved and long-awaited. For many years, Spanish tennis player Pablo Carreno Busta has garnered the respect and support of both fans and other members of the ATP Tour. He’s one of those good guys who always handles himself well, works hard, and gives it his all every time he steps on court. But he’s never won a major and has only won a couple big tournaments in his career. He’s been close many times but just hasn’t been able to get that huge signature win. Yet, he keeps trying. And trying. And trying. 

Heading into the Tokyo Summer Olympics held a year ago, Pablo was one of the tennis players selected to represent Spain. Lacking the presence of their high-profile star, Rafael Nadal, Spain was not expected to be a big medal contender. Yet, Carreno Busta found himself playing for a bronze medal against none other than the current world No. 1, Novak Djokavic. Even though Djokavic had shockingly lost in the semis and his hopes of completing the golden slam were dashed, most assumed he would still find a way to grab the bronze, given Pablo had only one win against him via a default.

But, two hours and three sets later, Carreno Busta dropped to his knees on the Olympic logo in pure ecstasy and surprise. Against all odds, he had managed to pull off the upset and grab the bronze medal. Pablo told the press he felt like he was in a cloud, admitting it was by far the biggest win of his career. That win has since turned him into a different player, giving him confidence and leading to several other signature wins along the way.

I once heard a wise person say that success is about overcoming challenges, and Pablo’s story is certainly evidence of that. The bronze medal meant more to him in a lot of ways than any major, simply because he had to persevere and fight so hard to earn it. He waited so long for his opportunity, and he seized it when it came. For him, the medal was proof of the journey, and it didn’t matter that the color was bronze. In his eyes, it was as special as gold. 

We will all be presented with our own share of obstacles, and there will be times when it seems like we are working our hardest and not seeing the fruit of our labor. We will all have our perseverance tested along the journey and, like Pablo, we may struggle with the fact we don’t have much to show for our efforts. But we have to have a heart to overcome. We have to keep believing in the process, trusting the plan, and staying hopeful that our moment will come someday.

As Pablo said following his bronze-medal win, “All effort has its reward sooner or later.” And because the value is found in the character-building and the overcoming and not just the winning, the achievements are all the sweeter when they happen. 

— Katherine Singer

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