Tonight, in America’s heartland, some of Major League Baseball’s top sluggers will gather in a spectacle of oohs and aahs known as the home run derby. This is not about winning the World Series or making the playoffs or even advancing your team in the standings. It is completely about one thing—having fun. These sluggers will be trying to hit as many home runs as possible, as far as possible, and as high as possible. The home run derby is a contest of strength, power, and skill, and it is part of what separates baseball’s All Star events from the other professional sports. There has always been something magical about home runs, and tonight should be a magical night. Because tonight is not about baseball—it is about putting on a good and memorable show. In the arena of life, however, strength is not for show. It is as fundamental to survival as the air we breathe. The problem is that we do not possess this strength in ourselves. Certainly, we can cruise through some of the lighter seasons of life with a measure of ease and comfort, but that isn’t the presence of strength. It is the absence of trial. When trials arrive, our lack of strength becomes instantly exposed and we find ourselves punching above our weight. Not only do we find that we do not have enough strength, we find ourselves without any. How do we respond? By learning from the experience of the apostle Paul who, when confronted by a deep, painful trial, found strength in the grace of God. He wrote to the believers at Corinth about the God of strength:

He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

The strength Paul found through grace was so remarkable that it caused him to take pleasure in some of life’s most difficult experiences. And that is something all of us need when we find ourselves facing challenges greater than ourselves. We need to learn how to rest in Him, “that the power of Christ may rest upon (us).” That is where strength really lives.   Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain