Every great competitor loves to be told, “It can’t be done.” Because at the heart of every athlete is a desire to do the impossible, to overcome the longest odds, to face the greatest opponent—and win. Those four little words—it can’t be done—provide all the fuel necessary to stoke the fire within. That’s why we love the upset. We love the underdog. And we love the game-winning drive, the buzzer-beater, and the walk-off home run.
In 2006, my friend David Lyons was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord resulting in loss of muscle control, vision, balance, and sensation (such as numbness). With MS, the nerves of the brain and spinal cord are damaged by one’s own immune system when it mistakenly attacks normal tissues.
He was told by doctors that he would quickly deteriorate, need a walker, and eventually end up in a wheelchair. In 2008, he decided to fight back. He responded by setting the impossible goal of competing in a bodybuilding competition at the age of fifty. Everyone said, you guessed it, “It can’t be done.” His doctors told him he was crazy and that intense physical training would be detrimental to his condition. But, to everyone’s amazement, David competed and received a standing ovation to go along with his Most Inspirational Bodybuilder trophy.
If that were the end of the story, it would be a good story, but not a great story. A good story only becomes inspirational when it’s about something bigger. David wanted his trial to produce a testimony about the greatness and goodness of his God. He knew that this test had the potential to transform him and encourage others. He began to trust not only that everything happens for a reason but that everything happens “for us to reason.” There was truth to be discovered. He chose to believe that there was purpose in his pain.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2–4)
In order for God to truly transform us, it takes time, pressure, and heat. That’s how uncommonly brilliant diamonds are formed out of the common element, carbon. God uses trials to make us unshakeable and Him unmistakable. Under pressure, our faith is forced into the open and shows its true colors.
My friend David discovered a renewed sense of urgency to pursue Christ and make him known. He reconnected with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and began telling his story at local high schools, colleges, camps, and events. He became a passionate and inspirational writer, writing several FCA Daily Impact Plays that are read by thousands. His writing has also been featured in the FCA Athlete’s Bible.
He has inspired thousands to seize the day, trust in God, and live for His glory. He has a passion for using the platform of sports to lead others to a relationship with Jesus. The more “heat and pressure” he felt, the more “heart and presence” of God he relied on. He let the power of God push him to train and comfort him in his pain.
It is likely that each one of us will face our own tests and trials. No one is exempt from hardship. How we respond to that kind of adversity reveals our character. Character is uncovered in crisis and formed in the fire. It is both revealed and refined. When we are squeezed, what comes out reveals what’s inside.
I know David as a great man of God and an overcomer. His story will inspire you to be the man or woman God has designed you to be. And when you face adversity so big it scares you, and everyone tells you “It can’t be done,” just smile and remember this one thing—nothing is impossible with God.