Courage and sacrifice

Like many other Canadians, I have been gripped by the Winter Olympics.

I have rejoiced with the victors. And I have felt for those whose dreams were dashed.

But, most of all, I have been captivated by the stories of courage and sacrifice.

I loved the “never-give-up” spirit of the Canadian women hockey players who fought back from a 2-0 deficit with four minutes to go in the championship game to win in overtime. That was courage.

And I was struck – as were many Canadians – by Gilmore Junio’s personal sacrifice by giving up his place in the 1000 metre Olympic speed skating event to another team member because that man – Denny Morrison – had skated better in practice. Morrison went on to win a silver medal in the event.

We all want to win – at something. And winning is wonderful.

But, in my opinion, courage and self-sacrifice are greater qualities.

I admit I don’t like losing. I don’t like finishing short of whatever mark I have set myself.

But what exactly is winning all about? Is it a gold medal that you can talk about the rest of your days?

If you were a newspaper reporter standing at the foot of Jesus’ cross, you might have concluded he was a loser. True, he was responsible for a lot of miracles and he had quite a following for a while. But, in the end, he was crucified – killed – like a common criminal.

But we now know that his death was a victory. He rose from the grave after three days and his small band of followers spread right across the world.

Jesus displayed the qualities of courage and self-sacrifice better than anyone else in history. It wasn’t easy for Gilmore Junio to give up his place on the speed skating team. But it was much harder for Jesus to die for all mankind – and be separated for a moment from the beloved Father.

We may be surprised by what God considers victories in our lives. We may find that acts of courage and self-sacrifice rank very high. Especially when we do them for Jesus’ sake.

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