“Although the world is full of suffering,
it is also full of the overcoming of it.”
– Helen Keller
I love the Olympics. The convergence of so many countries and cultures. The tremendous physical feats. The electrifying competition. The intense emotions of triumph and defeat. The sportsmanship. The surprises.
But what I love most about the Olympics are the stories of athletes who have faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles — and overcome them.
Children who were abandoned or orphaned, who acknowledged that, while they couldn’t re-write the beginning of their story, they could write a better ending. Athletes who lived in poverty, made countless sacrifices, practiced for years behind closed doors and believed in themselves long before anyone else did. People who experienced the depths of defeat and despair but kept pushing through physical and emotional pain to emerge even stronger than before.
Watching these athletes raise their arms in triumph, step up to the podium to receive their medals, and cry tears of joy as their national anthem is played and their nation’s flag is raised, is incredibly inspiring. I’ve gotten teary-eyed more than once as I watched an athlete’s life-long dream come true.
I have also been reminded that, while all of us want to triumph, come out on top, and receive recognition for hard-fought physical, spiritual and emotional victories, there is often a long period of silent, dark struggle before there’s any sign of light.
A valley precedes every mountain. A disintegrated caterpillar precedes every butterfly. Nine months of darkness precedes the arrival of every new life. Three days in the tomb precedes the Resurrection.
So today, if you are facing insurmountable odds, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, if your efforts are unseen and unacknowledged, if you feel like the best days of your life are behind you, if it takes every ounce of energy you have just to put one foot in front of the other, if no one believes in your dream but you — I hope the stories of the Olympic athletes encourage you to keep going.
Unfortunately, as Helen Keller said, the world is, indeed, full of suffering.
But today, take heart, my friend. Have courage. Persevere through one more day. Try one more time. Refuse once more to give up.
Because the world is not only full of suffering — it’s full of the overcoming of suffering, too.