The world finds itself facing another pandemic which has brought about levels of fear I have not seen in my lifetime. Many people have locked themselves inside their domiciles and restricted their movement out of a fear of catching the COVID 19 virus. This fear was initially formulated from the lack of knowledge which we all had concerning the virus' spread and lethality. There was the inevitable misinformation and anecdotal evidence pushed through various media sources. However, my disappointment was not grounded in any political spin on the crisis, nor am I frustrated with the continued misrepresentation of facts, or even decisions made by politicians in the absence of facts. I have come to expect very little from them media and government and both did not fail to meet my low expectations. Instead, my disappointment was in our cultural failure to embrace this fear and praise God through it.
We have very few left who are part of the "Greatest Generation". These were the men and women who fought or lived through two world wars and several pandemics, including polio, the Spanish Flu and the Asian Flu. This generation sent sons and brothers off to fight while supporting the war effort, sacrificing creature comforts and dealing with much greater medical issues than we face today. They were afraid but they did not let fear dictate their ability to respond. Furthermore, almost all I have met expressed a deep faith which pulled them and the country through these trying times.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7
God teaches us not to fear because as Christians we are covered by the grace of Jesus Christ and our sins are forgiven so that we might one day stand before God as though we have not sinned. We have the game won when we accept Jesus as our Lord and savior. Each passing day is just an opportunity to embrace life's trials and tribulations free from the fear of failure. Whether it is an illness, the tragic loss of a loved one, the loss of your livelihood or any other calamity which might befall us, we shall fear not. We should reply with the power of God that is in us. I am heartened when I see the The Billy Graham foundation be one of the first on the ground helping the sick in Italy. I am encouraged when I see congregations sewing masks for the less fortunate. These acts are born from love and a sound mind which has no fear of an illness but trusts in the Lord.
Football is a game which can not be played with fear or players exponentially increase their likelihood of getting hurt. It is a very physical game where the opposition does what it can to heighten the fear of the opponent. I have seen this fear and doubt countless times in the eyes of our players. I have to block who? You want me to tackle him? It starts with doubt, which matriculates into fear and then manifests in the "I can't" mentality. If a player believes he can't do something asked of him, then he most certainly will not succeed. He has sunk into his proverbial abode where he finds his mental blanky and grasps the security of perceived safety. It is this fear of failure which kills more potential than failure ever has or will.
What I love about football is it provides young men with an opportunity to face their fears. Not many sports provide the element of teamwork and potential to be physically challenged. It is in these moments where players can test their metal, embrace their fears, learn how to channel both physical and mental failures into success. If you want to compete for championships, then you eradicated the phrase "I can't" and not tolerate it on your team. Instead, embrace the fear and the failure, welcome it and realize it is an inevitable by product of success.
My players will tell you that one of my heroes is Winston Churchill. He would have made on heck of a football coach. He was quoted as saying, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts." I pray our nation heeds this advice and we not rest upon the successes of our forefathers but remain courageous in our faith and continue to put our trust in God never letting our circumstances define us. Instead, may these times let us exhibit how great is our God.