Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
If you’re reading this, chances are very good that you love sports. You can probably think back in your mind to specific moments where you were filled with significant happiness as you competed, practised or just played a sport for leisure. There are thousands of such moments for me. For as long as I can remember, I have loved anything that involved kicking, throwing or hitting a ball. I have also always loved skiing in the winter or running in the other months. Still today (assuming my body is not aching) I love running in a forest and taking in nature and the terrain around me. In the winter, there is nothing like a crisp January day, the sun shining, blue skies above me, and me flying up and down perfectly groomed x-country ski trails. All of these things bring me immense happiness. I’m sure you could easily describe to me some specific sporting moment that brings you these same euphoric feelings.
God’s wonderful creation, our bodies, are created to enjoy. A myriad of chemical reactions are playing out in our bodies when we exercise, not the least of which is the creation of Endorphins. Sport relieves stress, improves memory, and helps your mood. It is no wonder that much of the world has turned to sports and athletics to find their purpose and joy. To many, their sport of choice is their church and their co-participants are their congregation of friends.
While I love sports, and I know with certainty that it is God who placed that passion within me, I also know there is a far deeper longing, a far deeper source of joy in my life. In today’s scripture, the Apostle Paul writes to the church in Rome saying: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13). As we are God’s creation, as it is Jesus who we accept into our lives as Christian, as it is the Holy Spirit who puts a stamp on our lives, it should be of no surprise that the only way we can experience complete joy is through a strong, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. When Jesus was born the angels proclaimed: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10b). When Jesus taught his disciples, He said: “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (John 16:24)
If you have a passion for sport, thank God every day that you have the privilege of participating in that activity. Be a Christian Athlete with a huge smile on your face when you compete, train or just participate in the sports you love. Don’t ever feel guilty for enjoying what God has placed on your heart. But do not let yourself be deceived in thinking that this is your source of joy. Jesus Christ in you is your source of true joy because He, unlike sports, gives you eternal hope. Spend time in His Word; spend time talking to him and enjoying his company (and lots of that can happen during athletic endeavors). Remember that the “joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b).