The London 2012 Paralympic Games are now well and truly under way. For another nine days we can marvel at the skills and feats of endurance performed by a whole host of disabled athletes from around the world. The Paralympics are an example to us all of how barriers can be overcome and just how much can be achieved through determination, effort and hard work.
That determination was mirrored to me recently by a friend who was expecting her first child. During her pregnancy, tests showed that sadly all was not right. Her baby had a serious heart problem as well as other complications. The doctors suggested she should have her child aborted, but she and her husband were determined to give him the right to live, and refused to give in. Being a believer in Jesus, she knew that God had power to heal her child, but if He chose not to she also knew that He would give them the strength to cope. Many people were praying for them. It’s a few weeks now since she gave birth to her son. There was no trace of the serious heart problem, and after a day or two in the intensive care unit he was home and feeding properly, but will still need certain medical care. Who knows, because of his mother’s determination, he may become an athlete himself one day.
Disabled athletes have many ‘hurdles’ to overcome, but they keep going. Their endurance is an example to us all. Life isn’t easy for any of us, but through prayer and perseverance we too can make progress in our journey through life. Instead of giving up, we can look to our Creator. In the Bible, the apostle Paul wrote that “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength,” (Philippians 4:13). God is interested in each one of His children, and as we draw close to Him, we can be sure that He is there to strengthen and support us. As God once said through the prophet Isaiah: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
“It was a miracle,” said Roberto Mancini, Manchester City’s manager. “God looked at our game and gave us a helping hand.” Manchester United fans probably wouldn’t agree, but for all who followed the afternoon’s football, it certainly was a nail biting two hours with plenty of twists and turns. The Premier League title was at stake, as was possible relegation for Bolton Wanderers or Queens Park Rangers. At the end of ninety minutes Manchester City were losing to Queens Park Rangers; the title almost belonged to Manchester United, who had just won their match. Manchester City needed two goals in five minutes of injury time to win their match and claim the title, a task that would be in anyone’s eyes a “miracle”. Yet Dzeko and Aguero did “the impossible”, scoring two goals before the whistle went.
According to David Clayton on Manchester City’s website, “Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero were the men who scored the winning goals and turned despair into delirium.” Even so it’s just possible that Gary Owen – a veteran City midfielder, sold to West Brom in 1979 – gave them a helping hand. Gary was interviewed on the BBC News Channel during City’s victory parade on Monday. Gary described how he left his seat in the Etihad Stadium during injury time to pray for victory in one of the executive suites. “I’m not a religious man,” he said, but he knew where to get help, and had faith to believe for the impossible. He went on to say that when Dzeko scored he didn’t let go of God, saying “I haven’t finished yet; we need another goal.” Anyone who knows the Bible, knows that God responds to that sort of faith. Powerful men from ancient times, such as Jacob and Daniel clung to God in desperate times, and found that God is indeed the God who answers prayer. As the author of the book of Hebrews writes:
“I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” (Hebrews 11:32-34)
How about you? Do you pray, really pray … and believe? Why don’t you Try Praying?