Lou Gehrig played first base for the New York Yankees for 15 years. He hit home runs in seven World Series. He was a very talented ball player who garnered many awards and accolades, but the most important thing about Lou Gehrig’s career is the fact that, every time the Yankees had a game, he played. Lou Gehrig never missed a game. He played in 2,130 consecutive games. When he retired, the doctors X-rayed his hands and found that every finger had been broken, some more than once. But he never missed a game. He played, even when he was hurt.
Have you ever had to play hurt in life? Even the non-athlete must play hurt. Have you ever been depressed? Have you ever been given a raw deal? Have you ever had rumors spread about you? Have you ever had a serious illness? Ever been lonely or discouraged? Have you been through a divorce? Here’s the bigger question, will you stay in the game? I know you feel like quitting. I know there have been those moments when the pain was so great you felt like giving up. I want to encourage you to keep fighting. The stakes are too high and the reward for finishing is too great.
In 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 the apostle Paul writes:
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…
In essence, Paul is saying, “I’m down, but I’m not out.” Paul played hurt. Just read 2 Corinthians 11:24-29 sometime and you will find a rather lengthy list of Paul’s “injuries.” Through it all, Paul gave it everything he had, even when giving his all was difficult. As he was nearing the end of his life on this earth, he penned these words:
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing (2 Tim. 4:7 & 8).
Though he was down and out at times, Paul played on. He stayed in the game. He played until the whistle blew, and gained the victory in the end.
A man by the name of Don Fightmaster lost his arm in a car accident when he was young. He loved the game of golf and was determined to excel at it. He eventually became the National Disabilities Champion and was inducted into the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame. When he accepted the honor, he said these words, “It’s not what I lost that counts. It’s what I do with what I have left that matters.” You may have lost a lot. What you lost matters to you a great deal. You may feel as though you can’t go on. But you still have something left. You still have a reason to live, even if you don’t see it right now. There are still things in your life that matter. I know you hurt, but play hurt. Just don’t quit.