This is really the first time that I've ever sat down to watch all of the games. Before I was really only interested in watching the USA games. But they've been a lot of fun to watch. (Stick with me. I'm going somewhere with this, I promise).
On Tuesday, the North Korean women lost to the USA 2-0. Now the North Koreans are very hush hush. They always have closed door practices, they rarely play games outside of world tournaments, and the players aren't allowed to talk to the press. So no one really knows much about this team. After the game, the coach of the North Koreans went to the press and blamed the loss on lightning. He said that during a practice leading up to the World Cup, his players were struck by lightning and a bunch of them were hospitalized. Seriously, I can't even make stuff like this up. If you don't believe me, the news article is here. What's funny is that no one knew about this until after they lost.
Now, in the opening match on Sunday Canada's star player, Christine Sinclair, took an elbow to the nose as she was running toward goal. A defender stuck her arm up and Sinclair took an elbow right in the nose, and she went down hard. She had to step off the field for a few minutes. If you've every been hit in the nose you can imagine the pain.
Now I would think if there were any excuse to take a seat on the bench and let someone else finish out the game she started, a broken nose would be a good one. But not for Sinclair. She went back out into the game. And not only that but she also played in the next game on Thursday with full face mask.
And if that wasn't enough partway through the game a defender from France went to clear a ball and happened to clear it off the face of Christine Sinclair. Again, she went down. She already has a broken nose, just got hit in the face again with the ball, has a gash over her eye where the mask dug into the skin, and on top of that her team was losing...big time. Now seriously, if there was any excuse now to throw in the towel, any of these would be good ones.
But not for Christine Sinclair. She finished out that game. They still lost. She still has a broken nose. And they won't advance for a chance to win the World Cup. But she gave her all and left everything she had out on the field.
There are so many times in life when we're facing an uphill battle. The situation before us looks utterly helpless. The cards are stacked against us. We're hurt, we're tired, and the expectations we had weren't met. The question is how will we react? Will we make ridiculous excuses that don't fool anyone? Or will we give it our all until the very end, never giving up but giving everything we have?
You know, it's funny. I had the idea for this post earlier today, but time slipped away from me and I didn't have a chance to write it. Then some things I've been struggling with got me down, and I was seriously ready to give up, throw in the towel, sit on the bench, and let someone else finish the game I started.
But that's not the life God wants us to live. See, the thing about the struggles we face in this life is we have a choice in how we'll react. Perseverance doesn't mean that we're okay with or enjoying the pain we're dealing with. It just means that we choose not to give up despite that pain. So I want to encourage you today (and myself too) no matter what you're struggling with, if you know Christ then you have the power to persevere. Don't give up, don't throw in the towel. Even when the cards are stacked against you. Give it your all and leave everything you have on the field.
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world. - 1 John 4:4