The typical life of a college athlete consists of homework, practice and if you are lucky enough, sleep. The down time we rarely have is either spent catching up on sleep or hanging out with teammates. To sum the experience up in one word, you could say being a college student, especially a college athlete is “challenging” or “trying.” Many athletes like to read verses that talk about victory, triumph and how we can “do all things.” Many times, athletes don’t even want to talk about their failures. However, I believe that the gospel brings up both failures and victory, and sports can do the same. We admit that we can’t be with God with our own righteousness, but we can do it with Christ’s victory over sin and death. Sometimes things happen in a game, match, or meet that completely stinks. We have an off day, or bad calls against us or even an injury that puts us out for a long time. Sometimes things don’t go our way, no matter what our ability is. If you want a good read then pull open that leather bound spiritual textbook to James and read the whole thing, but for the sake of this devotional, the first few verses will do.
James 1:2-4 can help us flip those bad days or the trials of being a college student on its head. James tells us that we should count it all joy when we face trials of various kinds because it produces perseverance which can lead to a completeness. That means, no matter what challenges you face in your sport or college life, we shouldn’t be distressed, but instead look at it as a way for improvement. So what? you bombed a test that you “kind of” studied for. Rather than getting frustrated you can tell yourself that there is room for improvement. If every athletic event you played in was easy, you’d never improve. It is the tight, challenging and underdog games that makes us play our hardest and learn the most. The same goes with our lives, you might be going through a trying time, or be tempted to start something with the one opponent that literally never stops talking trash. But take a step back, breathe in, and consider it a joy to respond in the best way possible. The more you do it the easier it will be, and each challenge gives room to grow.
So, approach those games and your classes with the attitude that those challenges are only making you better, and no matter how unnecessarily hard the professor makes the class, you can still gain something. Christians aren’t meant to live comfortably, if we are living right we are going to face trials. Whether it is being treated as an outsider because you don’t go out to a party, or simply surrounded by poor spiritual influences, it can develop perseverance. So, rebound from those losses or bad days and know that you can improve mentally and spiritually. It may stink getting up for those 6 AMs, but those trials lead to a better team. More importantly, even if it takes time away from studying, setting time aside to read the word and talk to God perhaps is the most important challenge or, according to James, joy that we can face. So, I want to challenge you to a difficult task that will benefit you in the end. Spend some time with God every day this week no matter how many things you have to do. It may lead to trials, but isn’t that what pleases God even more? That we come to him first regardless of other tasks?