Victories, setbacks reminder of need to persevere

As children, we are filled with hope that someday some of our dreams might come true. Once upon a time, I dreamed of being a railroad engineer up high in the cab of a huge steam locomotive. Another time the dream was to become a projectionist at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall. From our youngest age, we all have had some kind of hope for the future.

In this year of 2016 most of us follow closely the various Olympic events. Some of the qualifications for the American team took place close to where we live. There was no avoiding the intensity of the contestants — it was particularly evident when a swimmer or diver waited for the judges to finalize a score. Individual participants were filled with hope that their performance would earn them a spot on the American team, and that they would go to the Rio de Janeiro games.

But what of those contestants who did not qualify? Did this loss prompt them to lose hope for the future? Perhaps a few felt discouraged or bitter, but probably most of them might have thought something like “win a few, lose a few” and went on preparing for the next exciting challenge.

Life itself is like a race. We have our moments of elation when we experience success. But we also have our moments when things don’t work out as we might expect. Does that mean we wring our hands, say “woe is me,” and give up? Or do we learn from the experience and move on, hoping and praying the future offers hope? If the hope continues and one is willing to persevere, there will be wins, successive life victories, and one’s efforts will be rewarded — perhaps not exactly the way one expects, but in its own way producing a rich and positive experience.

Famed sportswriter Grantland Rice was right when he said it isn’t whether you won or lost, but how you played the game. The true sportsperson overcomes adversity and finds success within his or her own capability and earns victories in his or her own way. After all, in God’s eyes we all have the potential to be a winner.

Bruce Mitchell is a retired United Methodist pastor living in Greenfield. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.