Athlete, Check Your X Factor
1 Timothy 5:5-6 (NIV)
The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.
Much is made of factors in business and sport that weigh in and determine outcomes. These variables include things like available capital, timing issues, political moods, economic conditions, culture shifts, current rankings, stock market fluctuations, demographic deviations, health indicators, leadership transitions and any variety of other personnel factors.
Even weather changes become X factors. And in basketball, like other sports, many believe an officiating crew can become the X factor in determining a game’s outcome. Which one has affected the way you operate lately?
The Bible regularly points to another “X factor” that determines outcomes way more than we think. It’s where we put our hope. Where we place our hope and how we express it matters.
In 1 Timothy 5 we see that the object of our hope matters much. It showcases a widow in need who puts her hope in God. That woman really hangs in there. Her hoping in God becomes a terrific X factor. She prays continually and is sustained. A godly hope holds us together.
Conversely, Scripture here also states that one who makes pleasure the X factor of their life starts dying. In fact, living for pleasure, unless rooted in the joy and satisfaction of living in God, for God, is a killer. It never meets our deepest needs.
Eventually, it will suck the life out of us. Just ask Solomon. All the unlimited pleasures he pursued left him empty. (Fourteen times he claims this in the book of Ecclesiastes. We would be wise to heed.)
Warrior-King David expressed his X factor this way: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God“ (Psalm 20:7). David knew that hope in God was the best X factor.
Scripture here also points out this widow’s persistence in prayer. She “continued praying night and day.” Because her ongoing need was great, her ongoing hopes and prayers had to be as well. Her ceaseless prayer fueled and refueled her hope. And this sustained her.
Prayer is the exercise and expression of real hope. And continual prayer is the evidence of much hope, not just much need. People who need hope pray. And people who have hope pray continually. Prayer is not just for the hopeless. It is for the hopeful.
So here are the bottom lines from today’s Scripture:
- Where you put your hope and trust makes all the difference in the world. Hope in God is the greatest X factor.
- Those who form the basis of their hope in seeking pleasure die even while they’re alive. Those who hope in God live, really live.
- Prayer is the expression, exercise and evidence of godly hope.
- The hopeLESS pray a little. The hopeFULL pray a lot.
What are your biggest X factors? Where do you really put your hope?
What’s the roughest thing you need hope for right now? Will you stop and pray about this (and do it again and again until the matter settles)?
Is your pursuit of pleasure keeping you alive or killing you, fulfilling you or emptying you?
How’s your prayer life? How full of hope are you?
For what/for whom are you continually praying?
A prayer to consider: Heavenly Father, I see afresh how crucial godly hope and prayer are as X factors in my life. Thanks so much for the wake up call!
Fill me with hope through prayer and keep me continually locked into living for Your pleasure, Your glory, not mine. Strip me of my reliance on other X factors, including myself. I put my hope in You for the roughest thing I’m facing right now. Have Your way in me and through me. And make me a hope-giver and prayer-warrior for others too. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.