(For those of you who are not football fans, my apologies for the introduction to this. I promise to get to the point quickly.).
Quarterback Greg Cook of the Cincinnati Bengals was expected by many in his generation to become the greatest at his position who would ever play the game. No less than the late Bill Walsh, considered as one of the greatest head coaches of all time, and Cook's QB coach while with the Bengals, believed this about Cook (recall that Walsh coached Joe Montana when you consider his opinion about Cook).
A shoulder injury quickly curtailed Cook's career, however, and he left the NFL without fulfilling his promise. I recently saw a documentary about him, and it was interesting to see his perspective in comparison to those who saw him play before the injury. "Tragic" was the adjective often used by his contemporaries, and to a person, they all bemoaned Cook's lost potential.
Cook himself, however, did not view the matter in terms of tragedy. He expressed disappointment that his opportunity was curtailed, but more importantly, he expressed the faith that there was a reason for the path his life ended up taking. "God had a purpose" he said, and affirmed that he had lived his life in that confidence.
I have a friend who had a similar experience, and expresses the same faith. Darryl "Lectron" Williams was a world class high school running back, and made All-SEC in his freshman season. A knee injury shortened his career, and those of us who know Darryl wonder what he would have done had he been allowed to fulfill his potential. Like Cook, however, Darryl says, "God had a purpose." He did, and He does.
Such faith is not a crutch that helps people survive misfortune, but a launching pad that enables the faithful to soar into the heavens and beyond. In his inimitable and Holy Spirit-inspired expression, the Apostle Paul declared that the trusting believer in the Lord Jesus Christ discovers loss to be gain.
"But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3:7-8).
"Doubtless" exulted Paul of things lost that became prelude to "the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." The Apostle knew how God-saturated and God-ordered his life was, and that sacrifices accompanied by confidence in Divine purpose always lead to a greater knowledge and experience of the very Person of God.
Rare is the person who cannot look back and see opportunities that either slipped away, or were forcibly snatched away. As Lot's wife, we can look back with longing and end up a paralyzed pillar of salt (Genesis 19:28). Or we can look ahead with faith, perhaps scarred a bit by our loss, but nevertheless filled with the same hope that thrilled Paul and Greg and Darryl. "God had a purpose." Yes He does, and He has a purpose in all our blessings and our challenges. That purpose is that we shall know Him in both gain and loss, and we shall discover that the hymnist wrote truly when he declared, "It Shall Be Worth It All When We See Jesus."
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."