2-4 " … And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Romans 5:2-4 (NIV)
They make it look easy. Don’t they?
When South African Wayde van Niekerk broke Michael Johnson’s world record in the 400 meters in the 2016 Olympics, I said to my wife, “Did that just happen?”
Van Niekerk did not look like he was exerting himself. He ran smoothly and easily. It was as beautiful and effortless as Ray Allen’s jumpshot. You would think if someone were trying to run fast, it would look like they are trying to run fast. Not so.
Van Niekerk did not wake up one morning with perfect form. He worked. He suffered. He sweat. Ray Allen did not pick up a basketball one day and have a gorgeous shot. He worked.
True, they were born with God-given talent. But they worked hard to get as good as they could. We can do the same.
I think when we are younger we believe that some people just get lucky. But many times good fortune is a product of hard work.
Of course, there are exceptions. There are people who have everything handed to them and others who work hard and never succeed like they hoped.
But as we go through life, we learn if something looks easy for someone, it might be a sign they worked really hard.
Keeping your spot on the team does not just happen. Getting good grades does not just happen. Good marriages do not just happen. All these things take work.
A web designer told me that when he builds a site he works hard to simplify it and make it user-friendly and attractive. Ironically, he says the most simplistic sites are the hardest to build.
Writing is the same way. If you read an article that has clarity, you can be sure the writer edited and revised, deleted and rewrote. Good writing looks easy. It is not. You know that from writing papers.
In all these cases, what looks smooth actually comes through difficulty.
Athlete, character does not just happen, like Wayde van Niekerk’s mechanics did not just happen.
Character comes by being weathered. Character comes by God working in us because of His grace. Character might look smooth and easy, but it comes with time and experience, failing and succeeding, unlearning and relearning. Maturity is not cheap.
One day you will be a finished product. You will be simplified and all the junk will be gone. How you got there, however, will be a complicated story.
Athlete, aim for character, not perfection. Perfection is not realistic; character is.