Scores of folks gathered to witness the Olympic athletes compete. Some of the competitors have stories of courage and perseverance that testify of their faith and grit. Yes, stories of determination and steadfast stances not to quit. I think back to the 1996 Olympics when American gymnast Keri Strug injured her ankle. Her limp revealed to the world audience that she was in pain. What did she do? She bravely stayed in the competition, got on that vault and obtained a score high enough to secure the gold medal win for the team. Her coach carried her to the medal stand to join her team members. The courageous act of Keri was one of the certain highlights at the Olympics that year!
The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:24 – KJV, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that you might obtain.” Throughout his writings, we note the courage of Paul in the midst of numerous bouts of adversity. He persevered with his faith in the gospel intact. We also read in Romans 7 how Paul warred against the law of his mind. What a relief, though, that he ends that chapter with these words, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
In 2 Corinthians 11, we read where Paul shares about his assorted perils. He was beaten, stoned, thrice shipwrecked, and more. In spite of all that he endured, he kept pressing on for the hope of the gospel. Philippians 3:14 – KJV, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul is one of my favorites to read about in the Bible. His steadfast courage stirs courage within us as we read about how he refused to quit doing his ministry as unto the Lord. I so admire his character.
The courage of the athletes in the Olympics doesn’t begin to compare with the actions of the apostle Paul. I enjoy learning, though, of the challenges that some of the Olympic contenders had to overcome to arrive in Rio for their events. Yes, for a select number of them courage had to be mustered to continue pursuit of their Olympic dreams. One example is gymnast Simone Biles who, as a child, was removed from the care of her mother. She then spent some time in foster care before being adopted by her grandparents. Despite her childhood trauma, she has overcome to become the best gymnast in U.S. history. Certainly, it took courage for her to come to her present place of athletic excellence.
I’m thankful that we have the writings of Paul to encourage and to bolster our faith. I’m grateful, also, to have recreational events of courage to inspire us as we enjoy these Olympic events.