The text from my coworker came too early to be good news. “Did you hear about Jacob Rainey?” she wrote.
Oh, no! Jacob has been a favorite patient of mine for years. (I even went to his baptism.)
“What?!” I typed and held my breath. Something bad had happened, she answered, but didn’t have details.
I prayed, then checked on social media. His dad shared that Jacob had been in an accident, had just come out of surgery, and they were thankful he was still alive. Through tears, I messaged both of his parents that I was praying.
Later, his mom texted me. She gave me details of his injuries and sent a harrowing picture of his face. I cried again. She appreciated the prayers and would let him know I had checked on him when he woke up.
What I hadn’t seen in her text were photos of his broken arm, deeply gashed leg, and the truck he had been driving. When I found them, I was shocked. That he survived is a miracle! Oh, I praised the Lord!
Jacob is a high school senior. He’s on the basketball team and plays golf. In the accident, he broke his nose, two fingers, and damaged his knee, so his basketball career is over. But the season is not.
His team was scheduled to play a tough game one week after the wreck. Jacob had been a key player. Without him, they were not expected to win. His teammates were all thankful he would eventually be ok but were missing him terribly as they prepared to hit the floor.
Just before the game got underway, Jake entered the gym. Walking with a crutch. Arm in bandages and a sling. Nose splint in place. Eyes still black from the impact of the air bags. He took a seat on the bench. To cheer on his team.
It was a lesson for everyone in that gym – and for us who weren’t there. Though he couldn’t physically participate, he did his part in cheering on his underdog team. His teammates were inspired by his presence. And. They. Won.
Jacob’s bench-side encouragement reminds me of the apostle Paul. He had been down many times. In Second Corinthians 11:24-27, he shared some of those troubles: beaten, shipwrecked, stoned, flogged five times, spent a night and day out on the open sea, in danger from bandits, his own countrymen and Gentiles in the city and country. He’d been hungry, cold, and naked. Yet, while he was under house arrest, instead of licking his wounds, he wrote letters of encouragement to many others (the New Testament books of Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians). Like Jake, he was not in the game, but still cheering from the sidelines.
It’s easy to quit when things are hard. But God truly can give us the strength to press on. My favorite verse this week is Psalm 62:6. I sent it to Jacob: “God is my rock and my salvation … I will not be shaken.”
Dawn Reed is a pastor's wife and newspaper columnist. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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