Applying champion life lessons learned from the game of sports.

Friday, December 3, 2010

WHAT vs. WHY...Which is the Better Question to Ask??

All of us have encountered some form of adversity in life or athletics.  Perhaps you've  suffered a major set-back at the hands of a financial problem, the loss of a loved one, losing a job, a car breaking down.  Is someone getting a promotion over you or is someone getting ahead, while you seem to always get pushed down?  The fact is, adversity does and will continue to occur in life.

Adversity also occurs In sports and one significant way adversity comes is in the form of serious injuries.  I'm not talking about an ankle that gets turned or the types of injuries that "come with the game" which diligent treatment will take care of.  I'm talking about serious injuries...a concussion that ends a career, a tibia/fibula break that can't be recovered from well enough to play again, a serious knee injury with multiple ligament tears...injuries that are certain to end a career or promise to be a serious threat to end one.  Another way adversity comes in sports is in the area of playing time.  Everyone wants to be on the field, court or rink but as you know only so many at one time can contribute during a game.  We/you may think you deserve more playing time than you're getting...that can be frustrating, make it difficult for you, cause you to suffer while you watch someone else play. 

When an injury or adversity occurs that threatens to take something away from you that you love it usually results in a response from us.  We often find ourselves asking a question, "Why". 
  • Why did this have to happen? 
  • Why did this happen to me?
  • Why did it happen now? 
  • Why didn't it happen to someone else?   

"Why" is a very understandable response to an adverse situation.  When adversity comes, it usually doesn't make sense, doesn't seem fair and we want to know "why".  Is "why" the best question to ask in a time when injury in sports or adversity in life present themselves?  In my opinion, 'no', it's not the best choice of a question to ask.  Before we look at what might be a better question to ask, let's look together at, as strange as it may seem, what purpose adverse situations can serve in our lives.  

According to, adversity is defined as: adverse fortune or fate, a condition marked by misfortune, an unfortunate circumstance or event.  Synonyms are: catastrophe, trouble, misery or disaster.  Adversity mirrors "tribulation" which defined is: grievous trouble, severe trial or suffering, an affliction, a cause of distress. 

 What does the Bible say about trials and tribulations (adversity)?  James 1:2-4 (NIV) "Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything".  The Bible also has something to say about suffering: Romans 5: 3-4 (NIV)..."because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character and character, hope". 

The role of Adversity in our lives and/or in sports is to, believe it or not, move us from where we are at the time of the adversity, to closer to being complete, not lacking in anything and it is done through a process.  The scripture references above makes the answer to "why" clear: adversity happens because God allows it and uses it to bring about a process wherein He refines us.  So, to coin the old phrase, "Why ask why"?

What might be a better question to ask in the face of adversity instead of "why"?  I suggest asking "WHAT".  Asking "what" takes the focus off of self and the circumstance of adversity and allows God to reveal to us WHAT it is that He wants to show us, teach us as we go through the adversity.   

God is concerned with the condition of our heart, it's what he looks at.  1 Samuel 16:7 tells us that God's focus is on the [condition] of our heart, not what is on the outside [the circumstance or the "why"]; ..."the Lord  does not look at the things that people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart".  When we allow ourselves to ask "why", we are focusing on the circumstances, the outward appearance; that doesn't serve any purpose or do anyone any good.  It's like participating in a self-pity party.  Asking why often leaves a heart filled with bitterness, resentment and anger which hardens a heart which hardens people's attitudes, behaviors and character.

Through times of adversity, God is at work on transforming our heart.  It's the critical component of our relationship with Him and it's the central component of us.  God wants to put our hearts through a process of tearing down (refining) and then re-building.  Giving us a heart that is stronger and more in tune with Him and His leading in our lives. 

Remember Matthew 6:33; (NIV) "but seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well".  God wants to have His rightful place as the priority in our life and have His rightful control of our heart.   So the next time you face adversity, stop and remember that through the adversity, God is at work and instead of asking "why", ask God "what" it is that He is wanting to do in you.

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