“Problems…develop endurance…strength…hope.” Ro 5:3-4 NLT
Michael Phelps captured the gold for his country in the Beijing 2008 Olympics and brought home a record eight best-time gold medals. But it won’t just be the number of medals we’ll remember, but his invincible spirit when things turned drastically against him in the 200 meter butterfly. As he touched the wall, winning the race, nobody knew what he’d undergone to accomplish it. As Michael pulled off his goggles and the world watched, incredulous, water poured out of them. He’d swum 200 meters almost blind, an experience swimmers dread. Counting strokes, looking desperately for any marks on the pool floor, he finally touched the finish wall, an Olympic conqueror in every sense. Phelps used his frustration to increase his stamina and determination to win. Paul says: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know…they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope…And this hope will not lead to disappointment” (vv. 3-5 NLT). What a catalog of amazing benefits God provides us when we face problems! Endurance: a commitment to draw on His grace and keep moving forward regardless of circumstances. Strength of character: inner fortitude based on personal integrity. Confident hope: a deep conviction that whatever it takes, ultimately we’ll make it. And to crown it all, we’re guaranteed success in our God-appointed mission because “this hope will not lead to disappointment”! When you can’t see clearly what’s coming, stretch yourself—the finish wall is just ahead!