Tears, Joy, and Knowing It’s Worth It: Lessons from the Olympics

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My house is dressed for the Games.

We’re on day three of the Rio Olympics and I’m pretty certain I’ve lost about 17 pounds due to the amount of tears shed during the events and medal ceremonies. 

I’m barely kidding.

For those of you who might follow me on social media, sorry I’m not sorry for how much I’ve posted in the last two days (which totals more than I’ve ever posted in my life). What can I say? Joy must be shared. And I’m sure my screams and tears and status updates help the athletes all the way in Brazil.

I’m fully convinced that God has ordained the beauty and design of the Olympic Games to teach us more than what the human body is capable of (although, hello, that’s staggering in itself), but what do the Olympics teach us? Why do we love them so much? Why do they bring us to tears (or sobs)?

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share some of my tear-filled observations of the Games and the takeaways that I’m learning as I watch these stunningly talented athletes compete.

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LESSON ONE: IT’S WORTH IT

For me, the Olympics represent countless hours of work, training, sacrifice, and pain, and it’s being validated. You’re being rewarded. You’re being legitimized. You’re being seen.

There’s something powerful about being seen, about knowing someone (or millions of someones) are recognizing all the hours you’ve put into your sport when no one was watching.

It also proves those hours of training were worth it. Standing on the medal stand, maybe with tears, maybe with a radiant smile, maybe with a composed posture (who are you composed people? I’m just sitting on my couch and I’m anything but composed), each athlete would say it was worth everything it took to get there.

(This is one of my favorite [and weepiest] moments of the Games so far.)

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…” -2 Corinthians 4:17

In a very human way, the athletes are mirroring this verse, but it’s just a small earthly image of a supernatural reality.

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Ginny Thrasher, 19, wins the first gold medal of the Rio Olympics in women’s 10-meter air rifle (photo from USA Today).

In The Silver Chair, author C. S. Lewis wrote about Eustace, Jill, and Puddleglum finally making it to Narnia after braving various trials, heartaches, and great distress. As the Prince came on the scene, Jill made a crucial discovery.

“Instantly every head was bared and every knee was bent; a moment later such cheering and shouting, such jumps and reels of joy, such hand-shakings and kissings and embracings of everybody by everybody else broke out that the tears came into Jill’s eyes. Their quest had been worth all the pains it cost.

Jill discovered that the difficult journey made the destination sweeter, and so it is for those who trust in Christ. One day we will stand before the True Prince and experience the pure joy, exhilaration, and celebration of being in His holy, holy, holy presence, given something greater than an Olympic medal. And this “reward” comes, astoundingly, not because of anything we did or any stellar performance or world record we achieved, but all because of Jesus meeting the standard and making the sacrifice we couldn’t dream of doing on our own.

One day, friends, one day, we’ll stand before the True Champion and look back upon the trials, the hurts, the griefs, and the agonies of this life and boldly and joyfully declare, “It was all worth it.”

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One thought on “Tears, Joy, and Knowing It’s Worth It: Lessons from the Olympics

  1. kelseylittrell says:

    Reblogged this on kelsey3333.

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