by Susan Wun, Major –

During the Vancouver Winter Olympics opening ceremonies—as each participating nation was announced—athletes marched in with heads held high, displaying patriotic pride. The audience shouted enthusiastically; applause was continuous. The competitors were focused on winning in their sport and earning a medal.

This is “Hope!”

While individuals have different hopes, all people have hope in their hearts. When we achieve what we hoped for, we feel satisfied, content with life. Although we know that life is full of challenges and hidden obstacles, we all hope to reach our goals.

This is true for the athletes. Before entering a competition, they go through intense training that is not only extremely time consuming, but very costly. After all that training, they still must face the actual challenge of the competition itself. It doesn’t matter whether these athletes achieve their hopes of winning or they end up losing, because as time goes by, no one will remember the outcome. The applause will end, and all that will be left is a dusty trophy that no one really cares about. Unfortunately, that is reality.

I do recall, however, an event from the 2001 Seattle Special Olympics. Nine handicapped athletes began the 100-yard dash—each determined to run the race and become the champion. In the midst of it all, one little boy stumbled, fell down and began to cry. When the other eight contestants heard the crying, they all slowed down and looked back. Then they all stopped and turned back. One little girl with downs syndrome bent down and kissed the fallen boy, saying, “This will make it better.” Then all nine athletes linked arms and walked together to finish the race.

The whole stadium stood up and cheered. The cheering went on for a while. People who witnessed this event are still talking about it. Why? Because deep down we know that what matters in life is not winning for ourselves. What actually matters is helping others win, even if it means we have to slow down or even change what we had hoped for and change our direction.

This is the reason that Jesus Christ came to earth. Isaiah 53:4-5 says, Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows…But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Therefore, he emptied himself so that he could carry all of our sins and free us from our transgressions. Thus everyone who believes in him has eternal life and becomes a child of God.

Because of that, Jesus has hope that we may become more like him. In Matthew 5:16 he said, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

If we become like the candle that shines for others, even as we burn out, nothing is lost.

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