Today is one of those days.
I don’t know about you but for me there are some days when the brokenness of the world, the loss of goodness all around me, eclipses the redemption God is authoring through His Son. When that happens, I wrestle with discouragement and feel overwhelmed with the prospects of dealing with that loss.
On the eve of Thanksgiving in this country, on the day when I am reminded to be thankful, I awake struggling.
As I wrestle through this, I remember the Apostle Paul and his experience with this wrestling. In his letter to the Corinthians, that we call 2 Corinthians, there are two themes Paul tries to drive home – Comfort in Struggle, Strength in Weakness. With the first theme, several times in this letter, he honestly and vulnerably tells the reader of those struggles.
One of those places is in chapter 6 where he says – “As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger…through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” (verses 3-10)
In the middle of these verses, Paul says he is “sorrowful but always rejoicing.” When I first ran across this passage, I was intrigued by the combination of these two ideas. Paul had sorrow but not only sorrow. He rejoiced. But he didn’t just rejoice. He rejoices in the midst of his sorrow.
Sorrow and joy. A strange combination but one Paul says co-existed in his life. This reminder encouraged me this morning.
It helped me move beyond the experience of the brokenness and my discouragement. It reminded me that my experience of brokenness is not all that defines my life. Alongside that brokenness I do see the redemption Jesus Christ is bringing.
As I thought about this, I was reminded of
- The redemption I see taking place through the movement of God in and through local churches using sports, rec, and fitness.
- The local church leaders who see sports, rec, and fitness not as irrelevant or as an end but as a key means to glorify God.
- The local churches who strive to glorify God by using sports, rec, and fitness as a bridge to connect and a laboratory to transform – both people and the realm of sports, rec, and fitness.
- The local churches who even this year for the first time have picked up the tool of sports, rec, or fitness toward these ends.
- The sports, rec, and fitness ministers who embrace gospel centricity as critical for keeping their efforts focused on this movement and ministry and avoiding the tendency toward just doing activity and running programs.
- Those involved in the REACHgathering and especially the Foundational Partners who have this movement on their hearts.
- The International Sports Coalition (ISC) and all who are a part of it for all their efforts to fuel this movement around the world
- Those I have the privilege of knowing and, in some cases, journeying with who stir me with their creativity, their courage, and their determination, who in many cases have made great sacrifices to be a part of this movement but think it nothing and “count everything as loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus”
Jesus is making all things new. This list reminds me of that reality and enables me to be like Paul and be “sorrowful but always rejoicing.”
How about you? What about the movement causes you to rejoice amidst the sorrows of your life or the world around you?