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Yards After Contact

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 ESV


During a Monday night football game between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants, one of the announcers observed that Walter Payton, the Bears' running back, had accumulated over nine miles in career rushing yardage. The other announcer remarked, "Yeah, and that's with somebody knocking him down every 4.6 yards!" Walter Payton, the most successful running back ever, knows that everyone --even the very best-- gets knocked down. The key to success is to get up and run again just as hard. Jeff Quandt, Irving Wallace, Book of Lists, 1980.

The Christian life is about perseverance and endurance. We struggle against enemies seen and unseen. Our faith is often tested, and many believers are pushed to their breaking point and need reinforcement to overcome. Our testimonies are shaped by our trials. The potency of our faith is enhanced by our burdens.

Our enemies do not care about our Christian credentials. They are not impressed with our testimonies or religiosity. Their attacks are designed to weaken, discourage, and ultimately destroy our confidence in ourselves and our faith in God. It is what we do and how we handle the pressures of life and the attacks of our enemies that validate our faith.

In today’s text, believers are encouraged to remain steadfast under trial. The way we handle hardships says much about our Christian character and our trust in God. Christians must sustain a resilient attitude and not grow weary when we get knocked down. After all, “the ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where they stand at times of challenge and controversy" (Dr. King).

When our roads become stony, we still must “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). In the National Football League (NFL), there is such a thing as “Yards After Contact (YAC).” Yards after contact are hard-fought and difficult to earn. Every player from the other team tries to hit the player with the ball. The best runners are the ones who can endure a lot of hits and still earn enough yards to position their teams to score.

Walter Payton was one of the best runners in the NFL because of his ability to earn more yards after contact. Though he was knocked down many times, he developed the ability to get up and run again without giving up on the play. This is the attitude Christians should cultivate. Most of us will get knock-down with every appointment and assignment. Yet we are to persevere and not give up because of the Spirit of God who lives in us.

The key to bearing many spiritual fruits and doing God’s kingdom work with joy is to persevere when we are knocked down. God has already promised us victory, and our spiritual rewards are waiting for us. We must stay on our knees and pray without ceasing for the strength to endure and overcome. God always comes to the rescue of those who cry out to Him. So, whatever the trials we face, we should give them to the Lord. When we are knocked down, we should pray for the strength to get up. When we are perplexed, we should not live in despair because our God will work all things for our good.

Questions for Personal Reflection

What do you do when you get knocked down?

Why are perseverance and endurance vital to the Christian life?

Prayer- Blessed Lord, I thank you for standing with me in my trials. Please give me the strength to get back up when I am knocked down. Do not allow me to become discouraged or disconnected from you when my test is greater than my strength. In all things, I want to trust you and lean on you when I face my life’s giants and know that I can overcome them because of your Spirit who lives in me.

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