“Dear brothers, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. — James 1:2-4
Jacques Plante was a legendary goalkeeper in the National Hockey League. He once described being a goalie like this: “Imagine sitting at your desk. You make a mistake. A red light goes on behind you, a siren starts sounding and 18,000 people are yelling at you. That’s what it’s like to be a goaltender.”
Plante was agruably the most influential goaltender ever to play. He is credited with a number of innovations that are standard aspects of the game today. He was the first player to wear a mask on a regular basis. It started as a habit during practice, but it became part of his standard equipment. He was criticized regularly for doing so, but now every goalie in the league wears a mask.
He was the first goalie to come out of the goal to challenge shooters and to skate to the corner to retreive the puck for his defensemen. His exploits were successful enough that he won the Vezina Trophy–given to the best goalkeeper in the NHL–six times, including five seasons in a row.
The most interesting part of the story, however, is that Plante did not begin playing hockey as a goalie. He started out as a defenseman, but he suffered with asthma and was not able to keep up with the pace of skating that defense required. Because he loved the game, he switched to goalie by the age of fifteen, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Sometimes the opportunity for joy means overcoming obstacles and make adjustments. When we have the right perspective, our trials can lead us to a place where we discover skills, talents, and abilities we may never have thought we possessed.
When trials come, it is our cue that God is working in our life–not to our detriment, but to our good. The endurance that He works in our lives becomes our opportunity for joy and the platform for demonstrating His glory. Opportunity can become our wonder, our worship and our witness to a lost world that Jesus is Lord!