1. In what ways are you feeling sadness or disappointment because of the impact of the coronavirus?
Sports are filled with moments of sheer elation. Sports also have moments of deep disappointment and sadness. I’ve wept alongside teammates on my high school football team after a last-second playoff loss ended our undefeated season, preventing us from fulfilling our dream. You’ve likely experienced disappointment and sadness in sports as well, whether as the result of a devastating injury, a game or season that went awry, or something happening to a team member or coach.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on sports and the world may have us feeling like we’re living under a cloud of sadness and disappointment. We’re sad about what could have been but now will never be. We’re sad because of the void left by the absence of competition. We’re sad because of how this has impacted fellow teammates and coaches. And we’re sad because at this point there’s no end in sight. How do we deal with this sadness and disappointment?
Read Psalm 42 and Romans 5:1-5
The antidote to sadness and disappointment is hope: hope in Christ. In the midst of his sadness and discouragement, the psalmist engages in self-coaching in verses 5 and 11 of Psalm 42: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God!” In Romans 5, Paul says we can actually rejoice in the midst of problems and trials for this reason: God uses our difficult circumstances to grow our endurance, our character, and “our confident hope of salvation” (v. 4). Paul then adds: “And this hope will not lead to disappointment” (v. 5).
“Hope” in the Bible is the confident expectation that God will do what he has promised to do even though we don’t yet see it – or don’t yet see it in full. In pretty much every area of life, including sports, we’ll encounter difficulties and disappointment. These things are often painful – but they need not devastate or derail us. Why? Because we realize that compared with the incredible and eternal hope we have in Christ, problems and trials are temporary.
When it comes to God’s promises to all who put their trust in Christ – knowing him; being secure in his love and salvation; having eternal life; being confident that he will use everything that happens in our lives, even painful things, for his good purposes; experiencing his ultimate victory over sin, death, and the enemy of our souls – we will find that God does not disappoint.
2. How does knowing the hope you have in Christ transform your perspective on current circumstances?
Feeling sad because of the devastating impact of the coronavirus is natural and even healthy. This is not what God intended for his creation when he made it and declared it was all “very good” (Genesis 1:32). In God’s ultimate future for his people, he promises that “there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4). In the meantime, we tenaciously hold onto the hope we have in Christ. We respond to God’s work as he uses trials to deepen our endurance and strengthen our character. We remain confident that God will do all that he has promised through Christ.
During this unprecedented and challenging season, follow the psalmist’s lead and keep engaging in helpful self-coaching: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!”
3. Thinking specifically and practically, how can you hold onto hope in Christ day by day? Ask the Lord for his power and grace to enable you to put these things into practice so that hope in Christ will be your daily experience.
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.