“You armed me with strength for battle; you made my adversaries bow at my feet.”
- Psalm 18:39
Timmy Newsome, the great former running back for the Dallas Cowboys – also a great human being I might add – in reflecting on his life and football career once remarked that he was never intimidated by lost yardage on a play, because there was always an opportunity to make it up on the next one. I had the privilege of becoming acquainted with Timmy while working together in a non-profit endeavor which is when I heard him make that comment. Upon hearing him say that it occurred to me that that was the differentiator that launched him into the pros over others who also had great ability.
Likewise, there are a lot of excellent golfers around, but only an elite few become PGA winners. The distinction between the amateurs and pros is not that the pros necessarily hit fewer bad shots that put them in difficult predicaments; rather the differentiator is how well they recover from those predicaments – dealing with the adversities they encounter. (Notably, we witnessed just this past week Tiger Wood’s miraculous return to the Masters Tournament following a crippling auto accident only months prior.)
How critical is dealing with adversity? According to my airline pilot friends, the frequent flight simulator training and testing they are required to undergo has less to do with the basics of normal takeoffs, landings, and flying the aircraft, than responding to adverse situations. Most experienced professional pilots can fly a plane with their eyes closed. But what they must practice over and over is how to react when things go awry.
In my youth I had dreams of a perfect life, perhaps you did too – perfect job, perfect home, perfect family, perfect everything. But life doesn’t work that way, does it? “In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus reminds us (John 16:33). Adversity is inevitable.
What separates an abundant life from a tragic one is neither an absence of adversity nor the severity of it; rather it is how we deal with it when it occurs. So, if you are living an abundant life it is because you know how to react when things go awry, how to recover from the hazards of life and scramble out of tight situations – and most importantly, knowing the One who armed you with the strength to do so in the first place.