Editor’s note: To help Christian sportspeople navigate these uncertain times, we will be publishing a series of posts focused on what it looks like to “Run The Race Well” in a time of coronavirus and quarantine. We will be getting contributions from a variety of perspectives: theologians, philosophers, athletes, coaches, mental health professionals, seminary students, and more. This post comes from Dani Price, Assistant Softball Coach at Georgia Southern University and a graduate from Truett Seminary.
I had a poster in my childhood room with a Babe Ruth quote: “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” An 0-2 count, or three strikeouts later, the perspective is that the good will come again. After an error, you can step into the batter’s box with a chance at an RBI. After a losing season, you can look towards the 0-0 record that a new season will bring. The hope of what is to come allows us to look at current difficulties with a proper perspective.
The notion of hope in the midst of struggle can be found in deeper and more profound ways throughout Scripture. One of my favorite examples comes in Lamentations. In the book, made up of five poems of sorrow, Jerusalem has just been completely destroyed by the Babylonians. The author relives the wreckage and mourns the destruction of the temple, the loss of his home, and the suffering of his people.
Yet, in the very middle of the story, the author turns to hope amidst the grief:
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
This change of tone doesn’t make what has happened any less devastating. But the promise of who God is in the midst of chaos provides the author with perspective to find his footing on solid ground and look up.
If you are involved in sports, I wonder how COVID-19 has devastated your season, training, or life in general?
As the coach of a college softball team, it hit three weeks ago when we were ready to pack up the bus for another road trip. Instead, I found myself in an office with our team as the news came across social media that our season was over. I witnessed all twenty-two of our student-athletes brought to tears. It was an abrupt ending to a season that had been bringing all of us joy. Within thirty-six hours of our meeting, the players had to be off campus and we had to say goodbye for an undetermined amount of time—which we now know will be through the end of the school year.
Sure felt like a strikeout.
As coaches without answers, our staff encouraged the student-athletes to let themselves be sad, mad, confused, and frustrated. Grieve the loss of something you love, we told them. It doesn’t mean that you cannot also turn to hope.
While the loss of our season seemed big at the time—and it was in its own right—the magnitude of the COVID-19 crisis has only grown since then. Beyond the sting of lost seasons, our players and coaches may feel sadness, frustration, and loneliness with the loss of human interaction and connection. We may fear loved ones getting sick. We may know someone who already is. Life is now a whirlwind of information and emotions.
Again, this feels like a big strikeout.
Perhaps it feels closer to what the author of Lamentations felt.
Yet, in the middle of this COVID-19 crisis that seems to have no end in sight, may we pause and call to mind our faithful God. A God who is calm amid the chaos and a solid rock amid sinking sand. His steadfast love never ceases and His mercies never come to an end.
And even as we find ourselves in far greater trials and struggles than failure in a game, we can still learn a lesson from Babe Ruth. Just as he looked for the next home run, we can place our hope in God. If He is what we are chasing, we know that the strikeouts along the way might be painful—and that pain should not be overlooked—but we know, too, that the good will come again.
With that truth in our mind, we can dig into the batter’s box. Find our footing and wait for the next pitch. We might have plenty more strikes and strikeouts to come, but the home run keeps us swinging!
About the author: Dani Price received her Master of Divinity from Truett Seminary in 2017 where she was involved in the Sports Ministry Program. During her time at Truett, she also served as the Volunteer Assistant Coach for Baylor Softball and helped lead the Bears to three NCAA Regional Tournaments and the 2019 Women’s College World Series. She is currently the Assistant Softball Coach at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA, and is passionate about ministering to athletes through her role as a coach.