Kerri Strug became an overnight sensation and beloved figure to all Americans based on her inspiring performance at the 1996 Olympics. At only 18 years old, Keri helped her team win gold in the most dramatic fashion. The US ladies’ team had gotten off to such a strong start in the Games that the press dubbed them “The Magnificent Seven,” but as the competition heated up, it soon became clear that the Russians were a force to be reckoned with. Despite their best efforts, the US lead had evaporated by the time it came to their final gymnast – Kerri Strug. Unfortunately, Keri had sprained her ankle during her first vault, and when she realized that she was to be called upon again, she earnestly asked her coach, “Do we need this?” The US hope for the gold relied solely on Kerri’s final vault, and so she limped towards the runway for her second attempt. Her performance was incredible, and she even managed a near-perfect dismount, landing on both feet. It was the first time since 1948 that the Russians hadn’t taken home the team gold. It instantly became clear that Kerri was severely hurt. So much so that she collapsed onto her knees and needed assistance just to leave the platform. The team’s coach, Bela Karolyi, carried Kerri onto the medals podium, and after the ceremony, she was hospitalized for a third-degree lateral sprain and tendon damage. Speaking to the media after the win, she said, “This is the Olympics. This is what you dream about from when you’re 5 years old. I wasn’t going to stop.”
I’d like to focus on the first part of Keri’s response when asked how she had drummed up the effort to push through the extreme pain. She responded by saying, “This is the Olympics.” What Keri is attempting to do is put into words what all that these games mean to her. The Olympic games meant the world to her, it’s all she ever wanted, and it was a chance for her to etch her name in the record books forever. Therefore, since competing in the games and securing gold for her team meant that much to her – Keri Strug was able to push through anything to reach her goal. What are you willing to push through, endure, or overcome to see your faith prevail or succeed at the high levels? In another extreme case of setbacks and seemingly unsurmountable defeats, David, the future King of Israel, finds himself in a not so royal situation. In 1 Samuel 21:10-15, David is hiding out in Philistine territory to escape assassination attempts on his life. As he spends some time in the city of Gath, hometown to his vanquished enemy Goliath, David must feign insanity to escape possible persecution. In verses 12-13, we get a sense of the dire situation David is in, “David took these words to heart and greatly feared Achish king of Gath. So, he disguised his sanity before them, and acted insanely in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard.” Yet still, after all of the years, he spent hiding in caves, running for his life from Saul, and the extreme circumstances found here in 1 Samuel 21 – David always kept the faith. He would write in Psalms 34:1-3,8 of his feeling during this specific time in Gath, “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul will make its boast in the LORD; The humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together. O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”
How could David keep his faith in the promises God had given him so many years ago when he was just a boy? How could David keep his faith when his King and nearly the whole nation of Israel stood against him? How could David keep his faith when everything pointed to despair, disappointment, and extreme difficulty? As Keri Strug put it simply, “This is the Olympics,” David’s mantra could be, “This is my Faith.” David’s faith simply means too much to him to give up on it, to call it quits, or give anything less than his all. His faith meant the world to him, it’s all he ever wanted, and it was a chance for him to etch his name in the book of life forever. Therefore, since his faith meant that much to him, David could push through anything to reach his goal.
What does your faith mean to you?