Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.
I am drawn to movies about sports and war. The funny thing is I don’t especially like either. It’s not the competition or the violence I like, but the stories within the story.
The team of young men, black and white, and their newly-appointed black coach, who want to play football amid the backdrop of integration in a small southern football town in the early ‘70’s.
The coach and the team persevere through struggles among themselves and from the town. They begin to forge friendships with one another as they work hard, harder than other teams are required. And their hardships knit them together. In the end, the young men are bound together in brotherly love and an entire town learns to love, too.
* * *
The schoolteacher who is called to serve his country and leads a band of men whose mission it is to find and save one man from the fate that befell his brothers. All he wants to do is go home.
But first he has to face and fight the ruthless enemy time and time again, all the while leading men who are dying, fearful and angry. Against all odds, he saves the young man and goes home, although not the way he wanted.
* * *
It is these stories of selfless courage, of commitment, of dedication that inspire me. When everything says quit, they don’t quit. Oh, they may want to. They may want to quit more than anything else sometimes.
But in the middle of this hardship, they realize what is important. It is the dream, it is the mission they must accomplish. They keep their eyes focused on the goal during the day as they face an enemy of racial hatred or an enemy of war, and at night when they’re left alone with their thoughts.
Their trials developed the character they already had but didn’t know was there. And they discovered they were more than they thought. They were more than a team who aspired to play football and more than an English teacher or a band of men called to serve their country. They were men who stayed the course, facing enemies both within and without, to do the good and honorable thing.
I love these stories because this is what we need to remember in a life that is full of facing our own personal battles. And as we do, if we choose to put our trust in God, we gain strength and courage and wisdom, we come through the other side and our faith in Him grows. And we go on to face another battle for another day. And little by little, if we don't give up, a godly character develops. We may not see it happening as quickly as we can in a two-hour movie, but it is happening. It just takes a lifetime.
So gird up, my friends! Be ready, be prepared, be alert. Be prayed up and repentant and humble. We never know what a day may bring. We may not face war or an entire town of people, but we will face something. But with the Lord, we’ll never face it alone.
And in the end, we will be victorious.