As we pulled up to the field that morning, I checked the time on my phone and immediately wondered how long the game would last. If history repeated itself, we should be done by noon and able to move on from the difficulty of the last few days and enjoy the rest of our weekend.
We set up our folding chairs behind the fence along the first baseline and settled in for what was likely to be another beating.
This was game four of our son’s 13-year-old All-Star Pony baseball regional tournament. To say the first three games didn’t go so well would be an understatement. Our team got “mercied” every game. That means instead of playing seven full innings, each game was cut short because we were down by ten runs in the 4th inning or fifteen runs in the 5th.
Losing 3-14 or 4-14 or 10-25 isn’t fun. In fact, it’s just plain disheartening.
So as the early summer sun warmed our shoulders and I swatted mini mosquitos and biting flies (why do the bugs always like me?), we braced ourselves for another brutal defeat.
Which makes what happened next so extraordinary . . .
While my hope for a victorious outcome was nil, this band of underdog teenagers and their coaches hadn’t given up. The Glendora All-Stars stepped onto the field and up to the plate humble and hungry for a different story. The opposing team’s attitude clearly showed they had already counted us out. But no amount of arrogance or intimidation was deterring our team from playing hard and clean.
From fielding grounders and catching pop flies, these boys showed remarkable composure and grit. Inning after inning, our team gradually scored more runs than their first-place-ranked opponent. The energy at the field was palpable.
Excited murmurs spread among the spectators.
“Is this really happening? Could we possibly keep this lead? Could we actually win?”
The Glendora All-Stars started the game with no external reason to hope. The evidence that they had been outmatched and outplayed all tournament was clear. The odds were stacked against them that this game could produce a different ending.
But here’s the wild thing about hope: it doesn’t require concrete proof – just belief in what’s possible.
I think about the times in my life when it feels hardest to hope . . .
When anxiety weighs heavy, when bills stack up, when the injustices of the world scream loud — hope can feel impossible, even foolish. As adults, we are trained to look at the evidence. We are told to trust logic and statistics more than things like passion and intuition. But when we focus only on what can be seen – like numbers on a scoreboard – we miss out on the wild goodness, beauty, and possibility of what is unseen. Hope helps us fix our eyes and hearts on that which is beyond mere calculation or reasoning.
Hope isn’t a falsely shiny filter meant to blur the hard. It’s okay to acknowledge when circumstances feel insurmountable or discouragement feels like a lead blanket. Rather, hope helps us recognize that the hard is not the whole truth. The hard we face today – on the ball field or in the board room or in your messy living room – is not the end of the story!
I find solidarity in Paul’s words to the Corinthians: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
Being hard-pressed, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down seems like plenty of reasons to give up hope. To wave the white flag and beg to be mercied, beg for the suffering to end. So what enables Paul and others to persevere, to show resilience, to keep on hoping?
Because Jesus took the sin of the world on Himself, because He died for all the seemingly ordinary and clearly vile ways we miss the mark, and because He was victorious over death – we can keep on hoping.
Paul said it this way:
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
Where are you tempted to lose heart today? Where do you feel outmatched, outplayed, like all the odds are stacked against you? Perhaps this is the time to shift your eyes from the circumstances you can see to the unseen (but very real!) hope of Jesus.
The situation you face today might seem fatal by all human standards – but you don’t have to face it with human strength. If you feel doomed to defeat, it’s time to rely on the One for whom all things are possible.
The previously defeated Glendora All-Stars ended up defeating their first-place rival 17-10!
Later that day, they went on to compete in the championship game. Was their victory a fluke? Was failure imminent or would their hope prevail?
Several hours (and countless bug bites for me) later, the most unlikely group of 13-year-old boys held the Championship banner. For our SoCal small town, it was a magical moment not one spectator or player will soon forget.
But even more than the shiny medal my son proudly wore around his neck, I will remember this day as an example of the extraordinary power of perseverance, humility, and hope.
If you are trudging through days of defeat or discouragement, remember that this is not the end of your story. I’m praying these words for you:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
*photo used with parents’ permission*
For more inspiring stories and encouragement when life is hard, follow Becky on Instagram @beckykeife.