Olympics inspire us and give us hope

Published 6:00 am Friday, August 6, 2021

To be honest, I am a bit giddy about the Olympics.

Dr. Pete Smith

It is fun to watch the events, to learn about different sports, to see contestants from all over the world compete and excel and to find moments of true glory. I love the games, the stories and the athletes. There is something deeply profound to me in the quest for excellence displayed in the beautiful diversity of God’s people. Occasionally, you have good surprises like the swimmer from Tunisia who won gold in the 400-meter freestyle. He was not on anyone’s radar. It was a joy to see him so excited.

I also love to see athletes being kind and helping one another, even to the ones that hindered them. Runners from America and Botswana fell together in a qualifying race I witnessed this afternoon. This was their shot to make the finals. I’m not sure as of this writing as to whether they still have a chance to be in the final race. All of that work only to fall, yet they jogged together across the finish line as true brother sportsmen. The last event that jumped out to me recently (nearly literally) was the men’s high jump. The jumpers from Qatar and Spain were toe to toe through the competition, matching each other height for height. They went through a tie breaker and still were tied at the end. Then, I saw something I don’t recall ever seeing before. They were asked by the officials whether they wanted to continue competing or to share the gold. They made a beautiful choice in sharing the medal.

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Maybe it is simply inspiring to see people at their best, being the best version of themselves on that stage. There is still plenty of adversity out there. It may look easy sometimes, but we know there is nothing easy about any of it. Even if they bring back croquet to the Olympics, it would still be too elite for me to make it. I figure that is my only shot. Until then, I will just have to be awed by how the athletes face the challenges, whatever they may be, and overcome them.

Of course, I see God all over this. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are creatures of competition, healthy and nonhealthy. We are designed to work with others to achieve our goals.

God has also given us a drive to improve and excel. We have such tremendous gifts, and it is exciting to see people cultivate what God has given. Don’t even get me started on the Paralympics. That is even more amazing. In a time when we need a little more celebration, I am grateful to be able to share these games with all of you in the spirit of American achievement and excellence. May God show us something good through these games and rejoice with all athletes who give us hope in these times.

REV. DR. PETER SMITH is the pastor for Farmville Presbyterian Church. He can be reached at pastorfpc@centurylink.net.