Sometimes, as an athlete, you are thrust into a trying moment of challenge that comes at you unexpectedly—and you are expected to perform at a high level anyway. Such was the case this past Saturday for Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones. Jones, an Australian international, was the third-string keeper for the Reds one month ago, but then Pepe Reina (first-string) and Alexandre Doni (second-string) each received straight red cards in the space of three games and, as a result, faced three-game suspensions—removing them from the goal for Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal match against Merseyside rival Everton. It was a huge match with a lot at stake, and Jones had to step up in the face of intense pressure and demanding expectations. His performance in the midst if this pressure-cooker was a trial of the first order—but Jones played a very solid game and helped Liverpool move on to the FA Cup Finals by winning 2-1.
We, too, face unexpected trials and challenges in life and sometimes have to rise beyond ourselves and our limitations if we are to make a difference in those critical situations. In those times, it is helpful to be reminded that we don’t face those moments of trial alone or without resources. The night before the cross, Jesus said to His disciples:
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
What a statement! In the midst of life’s struggles and trials, we can have peace in Him. Why? Because He came to the earth and lived in the same dirt that we walk in and overcame it. In the face of the real trials of life, we can not only have peace, we can be of good cheer—literally, we can have courage! His victory offers us the encouragement and strength to face those difficult times. Our responsibility is to rest in His peace, and find there the spiritual resources necessary if we are to step up to the trying moments of life.
Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain