And we are also happy with the troubles we have. Why are we happy with troubles? Because we know that these troubles make us more patient. And this patience is proof that we are strong. And this proof gives us hope. And this hope will never disappoint us — it will never fail. Why? Because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. God gave us his love through the Holy Spirit. That Holy Spirit was a gift to us from God. (Romans 5:3-5 ERV)
Tony Dungy is the head coach of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts. Many were expecting his team to be competing in Super Bowl XL, but it wasn't to be. He did, however, speak at the Athletes in Action breakfast on Saturday before the game.
After receiving a lengthy standing ovation and paying tribute to Curtis Martin for winning the Athletes in Action Bart Starr Award, Dungy told the hundreds of attendees that he wanted to talk about lessons he had learned from his three sons. Reporters say the room fell silent except for the coach's voice.
He spoke first of his middle son, Eric, and his competitive nature that is so focused on athletics that "it's almost a problem." Then he turned to his youngest son, Jordan, whose rare congenital condition makes him insensitive to pain.
"That sounds like it's good at the beginning, but I promise you it's not," said Coach Dungy. "We've learned some hurts are really necessary for kids. Pain is necessary for kids to find out the difference between what's good and what's harmful." He explained in terms of Jordan's love for his mother's cookies.
With no fear borne of pain, Jordan must be watched constantly. And the lesson from that, Dungy said, is pretty simple. "You get the question all the time, ‘Why does the Lord allow pain in your life? Why do bad things happen to good people? If there is a God of love, why does he allow these hurtful things to happen?' We've learned that a lot of times because of that pain, that little temporary pain, you learn what's harmful. You learn to fear the right things."Pain sometimes lets us know we have a condition that needs to be healed. Pain inside sometimes lets us know that spiritually we're not quite right, and we need to be healed. And that God will send that healing agent right to the spot. Sometimes pain is the only way that will turn us as kids back to the Father."
Only then did Coach Dungy speak of his oldest son, James, who took his life three days before Christmas. Of his family's pain. Of lessons they learned.
Coach Dungy reminds us all that the only way to overcome heartache and death, discouragement and anguish is to let them turn us back to the Father. When that happens, we have discovered the ultimate value our pain can have.