Steve Stricker is one of my favorite golfers—not just because he is great and levelheaded, but because he has faced adversity and come out better for it. Earlier in his career, Strick seemed poised for a great career—capturing a World Golf Championship title. Then the wheels came off. It was if he were constantly searching for but never finding his mental game, his swing, or his silky-smooth putting stroke. After months of failure—and wondering if his career might be over—Steve spent a winter in Wisconsin (an unusual place to train for golf) pounding hundreds of golf balls out of a trailer into the snow. Over months of work, his swing recovered, his game returned, and now Steve Stricker is one of the top players in the world—a ranking he arguably never would have achieved had he not experienced such serious failure.
How do we respond to failure, reversals, or loss? The easiest thing to do is to give up and quit, maybe getting angry with God in the process. But, as the writer of the Hebrews reminds us, it is always too soon to quit. He said:
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrew 12:1-2).
The key word is endurance. We don’t have to endure in the face of success, but we must in the face of failure, for as we endure by faith, we can find joy and satisfaction. The vital factor is this: Where do we turn in our moment of disappointment? Hebrews 12 reminds us that as we keep our eyes on Christ, His endurance for us becomes the model by which we endure—and the joy that He knew becomes a foretaste of the joy we may find as well.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain