A while back, I watched the inspirational, heartfelt life story of Michelle Payne, the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. Her victory in the iconic horse-racing tournament that began 154 years ago is, so to speak, only the ‘tip of the iceberg’, of her life. Her story is a beautiful and wholesome representation of the verse that has moved my heart for the past few weeks: Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3 I would like to de-construct this verse in a few words despite the depth and layers this verse explores.
1. Suffering – This is a part of life that we all unpleasantly experience to some degree. When considering Payne, her suffering began from an early age. Tragically, her mother passed away when Payne was only 6-months old, leaving her father to single-handedly raise ten children. Later, when she was just 18, she suffered a life-threatening accident, leaving her with a fractured skull and bruised brain. After such suffering, you wo
uld expect her or anyone else for that matter, to forfeit their dreams of being a professional horse-racer. The medical staff themselves informed her to give up on horse-racing due to the severity of her injuries, stating that it just wasn’t possible.
2. This leads into the second step – perseverance. Despite all of life’s obstacles for Payne, she didn’t give up on her dream. A vision or dream is an important ingredient in ensuring that we are resilient during tough times. As children of God, we can assure ourselves that there is a light (heaven) at the end of the dark tunnel. Not only so, but as Psalms 23:1 state, we shall lack NOTHING. We may stumble but we will NOT fall. Payne herself stated that: “In your darkest times you have to have faith; it’s what gets you through.” Her family support, vision and faith in God were three pillars necessary for perseverance. The same pillars we also require when enduring through tough times.
3. As we persevere through tough times, the lessons we learn, build our character. Payne’s perseverance through suffering increased her will-power, faith, love for family and her need. When I say ‘need’, I refer to the increase in our thirst for Christ, where we learn to trust and rely on him. This is when God’s glory, plans and power is truly witnessed in our lives.
4. He gives to us more than we could ever imagine, which inspires hope for us and others. For Payne, she never imagined winning the Melbourne Cup, and even further, was the first female to do so. She inspired the world and especially, other women to pursue their dreams. We too, can persevere and build ourselves, allowing Christ to use us to reveal his power and glory. I encourage all of you to hold firm to this verse, because we are all at some stage in this cycle. We may be suffering, persevering, building ourselves or rejoicing for the hope God has given.