17 "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV)
As a 12-year-old, I anticipated playing basketball on the Hampton High School varsity team. We had a rich tradition, great coach and high expectations.
When I was in junior high, my classmates and I talked about how good we would be as upperclassmen. We played great in summer leagues heading into our senior year. I trained hard the entire offseason. Basketball was my life.
One week before our first game, in practice I dribbled to my left and made a routine jump stop and felt a sharp twinge in my left knee. I had torn my ACL. Out for the season!
I felt betrayed by my body and God. I felt like I let my teammates, family and community down.
One day the stage was set; the next day the ground I was standing on was gone. One day I was on the verge of what I had looked forward to for years; the next day I felt like an outcast.
I remember walking into the gym on crutches the first game. To me, my crutches were tangible reminders of God’s faithlessness and my shame.
The physical injury was less traumatic than the psychological and emotional one. The psychological and emotional rehabilitation was more difficult than the physical rehabilitation.
Contrary to appearance, an acute injury is not a one-time, split-second event. It is ongoing and has power to transform or embitter us.
You realize right away when you sprain an ankle, break a wrist or tear an ACL that it is more than a physical event. It is mental and spiritual. It happens at the heart level.
Yes, something happened to you externally, but something even more powerful is going on internally.
As a Jesus-follower you have an obligation to process an injury through a certain lens. You must look deeper. You must look differently.
When my injury happened, it was not light and did not feel momentary. It was heavy and vast. I did not imagine I would ever recover.
But over the years I have gained better perspective. Though I sometimes wonder with sorrow what could have been, I see the injury as something God used to show me that He loved me and to draw me to Himself.
Athlete, try to view your injury as:
- A lesson in humility
- A reminder that God is all you need
- Something that helps you sympathize with others
- A course in pain and loss that can provide insight and character
- A catalyst for opportunities you may have not had otherwise
- A hardship that can achieve a greater glory than you can imagine (2 Corinthians 4:17)
- God courting you
Just as a physical injury is an invitation to do physical rehabilitation, your emotional wounds are an invitation to do spiritual rehabilitation.
Journey into the injury and wounds. Know that it will hurt. But know that where there are wounds there can be healing.