Ready To Give Up?

Walt Davis was totally paralyzed by polio when he was 9 years old. For three years he was unable to walk. But he did not give up. Years later Davis became the Olympic high jump champion receiving the gold medal in the1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland with a leap of 6 feet 8 1/4 inches.

Johnny Fulton was run over by a car at the age of 3. He suffered crushed hips, broken ribs, a fractured skull, and compound fractures in his legs. It did not look as if he would live. But he would not give up. In fact, he later ran the half-mile in less than two minutes.

Shelly Mann was paralyzed by polio when she was 5 years old, but she would not give up. She eventually claimed eight different swimming records for the U.S. and won a gold medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia.

In 1938, Karoly Takacs, a member of Hungary’s world-champion pistol shooting team and sergeant in the army, lost his right hand when a grenade he was holding exploded. But Takacs did not give up. He learned to shoot left-handed and won gold medals in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics.

Woodrow Wilson could not read until he was 10 years old. But he was a determined person. He became president of Princeton University and the 28th President of the United States.

It’s so easy to give up when faced with adversity, disappointment and discouragements.

I read about a woman who experienced all those things when she lost her left leg in a motorcycle accident. In 1994, Amy Palmiero-Winters of Meadville, Pennsylvania was hit by a car while riding on her Harley-Davidson motorcycle. She was 21 years old. Her left leg was crushed. After multiple surgeries, more than 25 different operations in three years to save her leg, the surgeons were forced to perform another operation. This time they amputated her left leg below the knee.

Before the accident Amy was a long distance runner. She had competed in ultra-marathon races. Now she was an amputee. Her running days were over.

Most people would give up on physical activities, especially running after such a devastating injury. But Amy refused to give up or give in. Three years after the amputation, Palmiero-Winters began running again.

It was sloppy and awkward and hard. Short distances at first. Then she logged longer distances. Her times came down. Then one day she set a record in a 50-mile run. She became the world’s first female amputee to finish a 100-mile ultra-marathon. In 2010, she was awarded the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States and the ESPN ESPY Award as the top female athlete with a disability in the world. Currently she holds eleven world records in various events.

From time to time we have all felt overwhelmed. We have felt crushed by the pressures of everyday life. We have felt exhaustion from worry, been knocked down by problems, frustrated by events. We have felt like quitting. And yet, in these times, I can close my eyes and picture Amy Palmiero-Winters running 50 or 100 miles on an artificial leg and then I can go on! I can go on because I realize that her extraordinary commitment and determination extends to all areas of life. I can go on because her story is a powerful example of the power of the human spirit. Against all adversity she powered on against all obstacles.

Perhaps the price of success is paid by hard work, dedication to the job, with determination and perseverance to see it through.

I see it in Amy Palmiero-Winters’ life and I see it in the story of the Jesus healing the Paralytic in the Gospel of Mark. Jesus had entered the town of Capernaum and was possibly staying in the home and Simon Peter and Andrew. Word had gotten out that Jesus was there and people began to flock to the house. Soon the small house was overrun with people who wanted to hear Jesus. The house was full of people. Others gathered outside straining to hear Jesus’ words. To this crowded event, four men came bringing their paralyzed friend.

They wanted Jesus to heal him. The four men were determined to bring their friend to Jesus. They were determined to get him to Jesus. The crowd did not deter them. The obstacles did not deter them. In their determination to have their friend healed, they came up with a new plan. Overcoming their obstacles they went around back and climbed up to the roof. Then they carried their friend up. Standing on the roof, they opened a hole in it. With their friend lying on a mat, they lowered him down by ropes before Jesus. Now that’s determination. That’s perseverance. That’s overcoming obstacles. In Mark 2:5 we read, “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic , ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ “ And we read that Jesus healed him.

This story is a powerful reminder of the amazing love and grace of Jesus and his desire for all of us to know healing and wholeness. But it is also a powerful reminder of what can happen when you really believe in yourself and have the support and help of others. A determination to succeed and a can-do attitude can help us overcome all kinds of obstacles. The apostle Paul reminds us that we can “do all things through Christ who strengthens us!”


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