This past weekend, in the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs, the Houston Texans did more than just make their first postseason appearance in the history of their franchise—they won it handily, defeating the Cincinnati Bengals, 31-10. But the fact of the playoff berth and the means of victory were not what made this maiden playoff win so special for one of the league’s youngest franchises. It was what they overcame to get there. At times during the season, they were missing their best playmaker (receiver Andre Johnson) and at one point were even left with their fourth string quarterback (Jake Delhomme). But, as testimony to their determination and perseverance, the Texans kept battling, overcoming a decade’s worth of adversity in a single season to show that they belonged in the postseason. I suspect that Texan fans would have loved making the playoffs under any circumstances, but to do so by overcoming so much adversity has to make it all the sweeter. Congratulations to them. Much of life is wrapped up in that very simple concept—overcoming adversity. But, as followers of Christ, we are not left to our own means to fight those battles. God Himself is fully aware and completely engaged when we face life’s stormiest seasons. In the midst of those time when hope seems distant, the psalmist reminds us: "I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy, for You have considered my trouble; You have known my soul in adversities" (Psalm 31:7). David’s point is clear: Our God is not aloof or distant from us in our troubles. He is engaged, enabling us to know and experience His mercy when life is at its darkest. Overcoming adversity is not usually what we prefer—we would prefer to sidestep troubles altogether. But in the seasons of life when the challenges we face are mountainous in scale, it is encouraging to know that God’s mercy can bring us great joy . . . even when we face life’s adversities.   Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain