2-4 "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. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
James 1:2-4 (NIV)
A veteran NFL linebacker tore up his ankle early in the season. After surgery, he attacked his rehab routine in hopes of seeing action in the playoffs. His team missed the playoffs, so he continued preparing for the next season.
By summer, his ankle was still not right. He had another surgery, then got a staph infection requiring three surgeries in 30 days. Another lost season. The following year he failed to make the team, ending his sports career.
Twenty-five years later he summarized his prolonged trial. "The whole injury is part of my history. I view life through that experience."
Sidelined … being injured, benched or released are common trials of an athlete. Trials deepen our character like weight training develops strength. They are God's most effective tools for moving us toward maturity.
Take a few minutes today to make a comparison. List your successes and accomplishments. At the bottom of the sheet, list how these things have produced more maturity in your life.
Record another list, this time of the trials and difficulties in your life. Make a list of how these things have matured and changed you. What has contributed more to your maturity — highlights or lowlights?
My linebacker friend views life through being sidelined, not through his records, trophies and honors. It is God’s mode of operation for setting our focus in life.
Athletes who have known the dark and difficult days of being sidelined leave the game better equipped to handle the difficulties of life. You may not get excited about being sidelined, but you can be excited about the results.