Celebrating US Olympians

Believe in Hope

by Eric Elkin

When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do.
— Romans 4:17-18 – The Message

Chad Salmela could not contain his excitement as he watched Jessie Diggins incredible push to win a gold medal in cross-country skiing. His call of her efforts made that moment in time an instant Olympic classic. One of those memories which will stay in the minds of U.S. Olympic fans forever. Even if you did not witness the event live, you could still capture the emotion of it on YouTube.

As the three racers in contention worked their way towards the finish line, everything changed. The Swedish skier, who had dropped so far back Salmela proclaimed her out of it, pushed to the front. At one point, Diggins had fallen to third place. Swedish skier, Stina Nilsson, looked invincible as she pulled away coming down the “klaebo bakken.” It seemed like Diggins would need to settle for second place.

When everything seemed hopeless, Jessie Diggins showed she believed she could win or did she? Was it belief or determination which propelled her to victory? The truth is Diggins could believe all she wanted, but she needed her teammate Kikkan Randall to put the team in a position to win. The other two skiers believed they could win; they just didn’t have the strength to push at the end. And, it was not hopeless for any of those top three teams. Matter of fact, it was not hopeless for many teams in the final heat. Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall’s victory was a combination of skill, training, teamwork, support, love, and chance.

The hopelessness which Paul refers to is much more dramatic. Perhaps, it is better compared to the hopelessness we feel in making our culture change in the wake of the Florida massacre. Or, how we feel in trying to heal an angry and divided society. Personally, Abraham’s sense of hopelessness at becoming a father reflects the outlook of many Christian congregations.

If I were writing a letter to a modern-day Romans congregation, I think I would refer to Andy Dufresne instead of Abraham. Andy Dufresne was the main character in the movie, Shawshank Redemption, who escaped prison to discover freedom. In a letter to his friend, Red, he wrote, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

I hope Jessie Diggins, Kikkan Randall, and Chad Salmela inspire young girls to pursue their dreams and encourage them to push themselves beyond what they think possible. However, my most sincere desire is for all people to discover the strength to believe. To believe in a hope which produces more than medals, it brings life to those who feel hopeless.

Click to read: Romans 4: 13-25

Reflections Questions:

  • What inspiration do you find from Olympic athletes?
  • How does this inspiration influence your daily life?
  • When have you felt hopeless?
  • Were you able to discover hope? If so, what was the source of your hope?

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