I can still feel the heat rising off of the field. I hear the footfalls of my teammates as we rounded the end zone for the fourth time. It was hard to breathe. My muscles ached from the strain. But we had to keep going. You didn’t disappoint Coach.
As the last of us finally finished the run to end the second football practice of the day, we all took a knee and listened with rapt attention to our Coach. The words he spoke that hot August afternoon have stayed with me for almost 25 years. He told us, “The mark of a true champion is how quickly they recover from adversity.”
I am not sure why these words in particular stood out to me more than others Coach had told us during our years playing football. Perhaps it is because we all thought ourselves champions and different from those who chose not to play. Maybe it was just because we really hoped we were different. No matter the reason, these words helped me gain a better understanding of myself and how to face life’s many challenges. Perhaps these words are the reason that Joshua is one of my favorite heroes of the faith.
Now, let me be the first to say, like the great C.S. Lewis, “I am a very ordinary layman” and no theologian to be certain. However, I have sat under the tutelage of some wonderful professors who taught me to read and study the word of God and, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, come to certain conclusions.
Through my rudimentary study I know a few things about Joshua. He was a great warrior, he was a great leader, he was a faithful follower, and he was scared about the adversity he faced when leading an entire nation after his coach, Moses, died.
However, God would not allow him to think he was alone. When He gave Joshua the mandate to move into the blessings that were prepared for him, God told him several times to be strong and have courage.
The Message paraphrases one such charge in Joshua 1:9 as, “Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. GOD, your God, is with you every step you take.”
Joshua showed himself to be a true champion because he was able to recover from adversity by leaning on the strength provided by God for the situation at hand.
What adversity are you facing today? Is it academic adversity? Is it financial adversity? Is it relational or spiritual adversity? Can any of these things separate us from what Jesus has prepared for us?
“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
Through Jesus, we can overcome, or recover from, adversity. We are champions.