Summer 2024

Daily Devotional: Friday, April 19 - More Than Your Performance

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” — Galatians 6:2

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American distance runner Abbey D’Agostino captured headlines and the hearts of millions at the 2016 Rio Olympics when an unplanned gesture of sportsmanship forever linked her with New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin in the qualifying round of the 5,000 meters. Abbey wasn’t even slated to be on the Olympic team, as she had already narrowly missed the cut to qualify outright. However, thanks to two individuals who had already qualified but dropped out of the 5,000 to focus on another distance event, Abbey packed her bags and flew to Brazil.

Her hopes of winning a medal, though, were quickly dashed when a collision with Hamblin during the qualifying race left her injured on the track and gasping in pain. In the moment, as both runners quickly assessed if they could continue, D’Agostino stood up to offer help and encourage Nikki to finish the race if she was able. Determined to complete the event herself, but with the pain intensifying, Abbey hobbled to the finish line in last place and embraced Hamblin to cheers from the crowd.

Track officials awarded both women a spot in the finals, but further medical evaluation revealed Abbey’s injury was season-ending and she would have to drop out. She didn’t leave Rio without a medal, however, because the IOC deemed it only fitting that she and Nikki receive the prestigious Pierre de Coubertin award for fair play. When asked about the incident, D’Agostino replied, “Before the race started, God made it clear to me that my experience in Rio was going to be about more than my performance. As soon as Nikki got up, I knew that was it.”

This beautiful moment between two women representing their nations is a reminder to us all that there are things that are more important than your own performance. While having goals and dreams and striving for athletic excellence (or excellence of another type) is good, the impact you have on people, the way you handle unexpected adversity, and the way you finish matters far more than whether or not you reached certain objectives or saw certain results. Galatians 6:2 states that we “fulfill the law of Christ” when we “carry each other’s burdens,” and the two runners certainly exemplified this on that day.

When so much of sports and life is made up of chasing the top at all costs, D’Agostino offers a different approach which, of course, has been shaped by her faith. “I truly believe that you can be both a competitor and kind and responsive at the same time,” she said. Do you believe this, too? Whether you’re working toward athletic or life goals, is the well-being of those around you more important than if you ever reach the pinnacle of what the world says is success? Does being a person of character mean more to you than perhaps being captain of the team or winning a championship or getting a promotion?

It should, so go and joyfully bear the burdens of others today and so “fulfill the law of Christ.” By pursuing things that are more important than your performance, you are storing up Heavenly treasures that can never be taken away from you and bring the ultimate glory to God.

— Katherine Singer

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