John 16: 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
“The Struggle is Real: Life of an athlete”. Most athletes don’t need to read this article to know what the author, Hailey Johnson, is talking about. The life of an athlete is a struggle. Johnson doesn’t mince her words when she says: “Regardless of the sport you play and how much you love it, there are parts of being a competitive athlete that can really suck.” If you are an athlete, you get it. Some of those not-so-ideal parts of being an athlete include: sacrifices you must make (primarily social), injuries (which are just a fact of life) extreme mental burden, significant time burdens (especially burdensome if you are a student-athlete) and more. The struggle is real!
I believe that if you are the parent or coach of a child athlete who intends to pursue their sport to an elite level (varsity or beyond), it is critical that you prepare them for the path they are wishing to traverse. From the outside, the life of an elite athlete looks so enticing. Imagine getting accolades, scholarships, perhaps even getting paid to participate in the sport you love. What could possibly be better? But anyone who is or has been an elite athlete, or has parented or coached such athletes, knows the less visible side of being an athlete. I believe it is necessary to inform an athlete that life will not always be easy and at times the struggle will seem beyond what they can bear, but if they are able to make it through such struggles, it will make them a stronger athlete ready to compete and win. It is critical that the athlete not be side-swiped when they face their first challenge. In those days the voice of their coach or parent can be recounted and they recognize that this is a normal part of their development and they can muster the strength to persevere.
In John 16 Coach Jesus speaks with his small team of disciples. Up until this point in time I’m certain the disciples were having a blast as they followed this amazing teacher. This man was healing the sick, casting out demons and teaching in such a way that he even put the teachers of the law to shame. They were on an exciting journey and eager to see what this great man would do next. But suddenly in this chapter Jesus becomes depressing. He says to the disciples: “they will put you out of the synagogue” (vs. 2), and you will “weep and mourn” (vs. 20). “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” (vs. 32)
Why would Jesus tell his disciples all this? Why would he be such a downer? Jesus answers the question in John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Peace? It seems counterintuitive that in their struggle they would find peace, but this is a recurring theme in the Bible. In Paul’s letter to the Church in Philippi, he exhorts them: 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7) Like a coach or parent readying their athlete for certain struggle, Jesus was preparing his disciples (and by extension us) for the guarantee of struggle. In this world you will have trouble on account of Jesus. Are you prepared?