Romans 5:3-4: Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
The first step in chick hatching is called pipping. This is when the chick first breaks through a small hole in the outside of the shell. The chick is still considered an embryo at this stage, because it is not fully developed or ready to hatch. “The following 8 – 18 hours allow the chick’s body to make some final developments for the outside world. The chick’s body will absorb the remains of the yolk sack and its lungs will adapt to the change in air pressure.”[i] To assist the chick in exiting the egg at this stage would be dangerous, and usually fatal. While it may be difficult to just watch the chick struggle, when we understand that this stage is vital to the chick’s development, it is easier to sit back and wait.
A good coach will know when to allow their athletes to struggle on their own. While it is tempting to give advice on every issue, it is not always the best thing to do. Our youngest son has had to face the high pressure of NCAA D1 competition. With the blessings of a full ride comes the reality of significant expectations and pressure. A coach can provide some guidance, but ultimately, he needs to work through many of the struggles on his own. The benefit of the athlete working through struggles on their own – physical, mental, and emotional – is that they become stronger and they develop techniques to overcome challenges on their own. In the heat of a game, or in the heat of competition, they will be ready to take on the challenge.
There are times where we, as Christians, might question the struggles God allows us to have. In the midst of suffering we might question God’s goodness, or question where he’s hiding in times of apparent silence during our struggles. In today’s scripture from Romans 5: 3-4, Paul encourages the church to do more than tolerate sufferings, he says we should glory in our sufferings. That is an advanced class in Christian maturity. I usually consider myself victorious if I make it through struggles without complaining, but to “glory” or “rejoice” in my sufferings, is something I’m working on.
James said that we should: “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.” (James 1: 2-4).
If you are an athlete struggling at times, facing trials, understand that it is a necessary part in your journey to becoming the mature Christian athlete God intends you to be. If you have athletes or others under your care, you have a responsibility to encourage and be present in their lives, but there will be times where you need to step back and let God do his work, let the embryo’s body strengthen. May God give you the wisdom to discern those times.