I think it was at the end of a cricket tour by a Pakistani cricket team. The team had started badly but finished well, and a media interviewer, seeming to want to get at the emotion and relief of hard-won success, asked a senior Pakistani player how he felt at winning a game at last. Long after I’ve forgotten the actual question he asked, I easily recall the cricketer’s answer:
“Winning is not the important thing. The glory is in the struggle.”
Whoa. What insight. What wisdom.
It brought to mind something my father (a banker) said when I’d finally paid off my house mortgage. “Be careful,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of people ‘go to the pack’ after they’ve paid off their mortgage. Their whole life has been focussed on that great freedom moment, and now their focus has gone. They no longer have anything to spur them on, and they implode.”
The point seems to be, embrace the struggle. Suck it up and even relish it. Because it’s in the struggle that gains are made and honour won. Not just in the object of the struggle itself, but in many aspects of development: character, learnings, faith, consideration of others, courage, initiative, overcoming obstacles, ….
There was a King, who had a boulder placed in the middle of a road. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some wealthy travellers and important people came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear. But none did anything about getting the boulder out of the way. Then a poor man came along carrying a bag of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the man laid down his bag and tried to move the boulder to the side of the road. After much grunting and straining, he finally succeeded. On returning to the middle of the road to pick up his bag of vegetables, he noticed an envelope lying where the boulder had been. The envelope contained a sum of money and a note from the King, saying, “This money is for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.”
The poor man understood what many people never do: Every obstacle is an opportunity to improve ourselves, and can lead to great reward.
The rival to embracing the struggle is anxiety. Worry. Therefore, embracing the struggle can be seen as an antidote to worry. A problem is a problem, and if you have a problem, you have one problem. But if you entertain worry over the problem, then you have two problems! Students who haven’t prepared for an exam have a problem. But if they worry, or panic, then they have double the problem. Better to keep calm, address the basic problem, and shut out worry. Not easily done, but that’s the objective. I have it on good authority (or maybe I dreamed it up somewhere) that, statistically, 90% of the things we worry about never happen. So, what has worry gained?
I wish your struggle small, but whether or not, I also hope you can harness the struggle, while it’s there, for gain.
Yes, the glory is in the struggle, and I’m very grateful to that great Pakistani sportsman for pointing it out.
“Count it all joy, sisters and brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2-3, ESV)