Let me suggest to you that exercise is to the physical body what adversity is to the spirit. We may not like it, but it is helpful in developing strength. Furthermore, without adversity, you will never develop greatness in the kingdom. If you consider anyone who was ever great in the kingdom or in the world, adversity was always part of their becoming great.
I grew up in Wisconsin during the 1960s. Virtually everyone I knew was a Packer fan. On December 31, 1967, the Packers played the Dallas Cowboys for the NFL Championship in Green Bay. The temperature was thirteen below, and the field became ice as the game progressed. Some players had to be treated for frostbite after the game. Some have called that game the greatest football championship ever played. With a little more than four minutes left in the game, the Packers, who were behind, got the ball. They had to score a touchdown to win the game, but they had not done well since the second quarter. With thirteen seconds left in the game, the ball sat on the one-yard line, and the Packers called their last time out and decided on play. The play was a quarterback sneak that Bart Starr ran, and he went on to score the winning touchdown. Many people have heard of that game, often called the Ice Bowl. I suggest to you that what made that game great was the adverse conditions under which it was played. If it had not been played in the cold and ice, it probably would not be remembered that much, because many games and even championships end with a last second score.
However, what many people don’t know is that seven years prior, the Packers were in a similar situation. In 1960, they were playing for the championship in Philadelphia. They got the ball one final time with just a few minutes left, needing to score a touchdown to win. They got down near the Philadelphia goal line, but they were stopped short and lost the game. After the game, Green Bay coach, Vince Lombardi, told his team that they would never be in that situation again. In fact, over the next seven years, the Packers never lost a play-off or championship game. I suggest to you that the victory in the midst of adverse conditions during the Ice Bowl had its foundation in the adversity and pain of losing the championship in 1960.
Many of us face adversity today, but we have reason for hope and joy. As we stand firm in joy by rejoicing, we know that Jesus is near. We can give thanks for what is good in our life, and we can discipline ourselves to think according to Father’s heart until it becomes automatic in our life.