The 4 x 800 relay race is a very challenging race in the great sport of high school track. Four individuals each run 800 yards with guts and perseverance and then hand the baton off. They each run one “leg” of the race. The hand off involves an amazing amount of practice. If the baton is bobbled or dropped during any of the hand-offs, then your team will lose time.
My friend, Sierra is a senior and a runner on a local track team. She has been a runner much of her life and she’s worked hard at her skills. Her cousin, Maya is on the same track team and they both run the 4 x 800 relay race. In 2019, their relay team earned the ultimate sports thrill and qualified to the state championship in Columbus, Ohio and they ran on The Jesse Owens track. (Jesse Owens was an athlete from Ohio who experienced discrimination years ago and became the greatest athlete I’ve ever heard of. I actually shook his hand in 1976.) Although they did not win the state championship, they set the school and area record in a great performance.
As track season approached this past February and March, Sierra, Maya and their teammates were preparing for another season and hoping to not just qualify for the state finals but to win the state championship. It was a lofty but reasonable goal.
Then the pandemic arrived. School and the Track season was canceled. For the first time in the history of Ohio, the sport of Track was canceled. There would be no opportunity to run on The Jesse Owens Track.
As all these events have taken place over the last few months, I felt really bad about all the 18 year olds who missed track, baseball, softball, concerts, plays, The Prom, graduation and many other awesome parts of life. I know the work that goes into it. I’ve seen it as a high school coach and sports official. It has been somewhat heartbreaking for me to observe all of this happening. But when I talked to Sierra‘s dad, He said “this pandemic will make her more resilient in her life. This will make all these young people more resilient.”
Other losses from the pandemic include health, finances, sickness, death and more. What is gained is not visible – backbone, character, resilience…grit. Nobody likes bad experiences but that is often where there is deep growth. (James 1:2).
The challenge for followers of Jesus Christ is to be resilient like He was and never stop trusting in God even when things don’t go their way. Run the race of life with perseverance.