Playing hurt isn’t new for African-American Major League baseball players. LaTroy Hawkins was a MLB pitcher from 1995-2015. While in Minnesota his fastball and earned runs average caught the attention of teams in the league.
Hawkins pitched for the Cubs in 2004. He said, “As an African-American ballplayer in Minnesota, I never had any issues. But as soon as I stepped out of Minnesota, when I signed with the Cubs, that’s when all the racial issues were brought to light. I would get letters in the mail, overnight express… overnight-express hate mail.” Imagine going from being a successful, sought after pitcher to a team where racial slurs are regularly hurled at you. It had to be discouraging. Despite all of that, he continued to pitch for another 11 years.
Hawkins’ story sounds like Elijah’s in 1 Kings 19. After his victory against the prophets of Baal, the prophet became discouraged. How God met him in that moment can inspire all of us who find ourselves discouraged and ready to give up.