John Lennon, the English songwriter and legendary co-founder of the Beatles once wrote:
You can shine you’re shoes and wear a suit
You can comb your hair and look quite cute
You can hide your face behind a smile
One thing you can’t hide
Is when you’re crippled inside
What are we to do when we feel crippled inside? How do we respond when everything on the inside is telling us it’s just too painful to go on?
That’s the bitter conflict portrayed in “We Are Marshall,” a film based on the true events surrounding the 1970 plane crash in Huntington, West Virginia, that claimed the lives of 75 people, including 37 members of the Marshall football team. After 75 tragic funerals, burying sons, mothers, fathers, and fiancés, Huntington was left hollow. Shattered. Crippled.
Families had been severed permanently. Spouses became widows. Children became fatherless. The town would never be the same again. They question whether beauty could ever rise out of the burning ashes of their loss. They learn that grief is messy and can even “make you do things you regret.”
An unlikely character emerges in Jack Lengyel, who would be the new coach responsible for rebuilding Marshall’s football program from scratch. Coach Lengyel reminds his staff that for the first time in his coaching career, winning football games doesn’t matter anymore. “It’s not even about how we play the game,” he says under a dimly lit cross. “What matters… is that we play the game. That we take the field, that we suit up on Saturdays, that we keep this program alive.”
Sometimes the only thing you can do when you are suffering is to simply suit up.
Beautiful people don’t just happen. They rise out of ashes!
You must put on the uniform and take the field like any other day. We need to keep playing the game in times of trial. We need to hold fast to our playbook (God’s Word) and keep hope alive. Remember what’s at stake if you don’t play. The scoreboard may affect how you feel at times, but it doesn’t have to dictate how you prepare and discipline yourself in getting up every day and moving forward.
That’s the messy struggle we see of a broken and beaten down man in the Old Testament. Job was a man in the Bible whose life was deeply affected by tragedy. Many of his dear servants were attacked and killed by bandits. At the same moment he was being informed of this, another servant reported that all ten of Job’s children had been killed in a tornado-like catastrophe. Not long after that, Job lost his health.
While Job agonizes in the overwhelming grief of his pain and suffering, his wife advises him to just give up hope, curse God and die.
But somehow, from these ashes Job prevails.
Job is able to put on his uniform and play the game of life even under a demoralizing state of affairs. Admitting that his heart is faint, he still senses the sovereignty of God in his circumstances, and declares, “For I know that my Redeemer lives… and after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26 ESV).
Job’s fortunes are eventually restored and his journey find’s strength and vitality once again, but not without a fight—a fight for his heart. The heart is the earth of hope, and therefore, the battle for the heart cannot be lost.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross said:
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
And she’s right.
Beautiful people don’t just happen. They rise!
1 Peter 5:10-11 (ESV) says, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever.”
For further study: Job 1-2, 1 Peter 4:12-19, Romans 8:18, Isaiah 61:3
Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:
- What is the most painful thing you have ever gone through? What has that season produced in you as a person?
- When have you felt the most crippled inside lately? How is your struggle for hope playing out?
- Read 1 Peter 4:19. What can this look like in your life the next time you are going through a very difficult time?
- How can you discipline yourself this week to suit up spiritually and put on the jersey of faith, regardless of the circumstances surrounding you?
- Beautiful people don’t just happen. They rise! Are you rising in this moment?
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