Years ago, I played with a couple of guys whose dads were alcoholics. Everyone knew it and our hearts went out to those guys. Amazingly, those guys never seemed bothered by it, but now I know better. Now I know how much life can hurt, especially the parts you can’t do anything about.

Through playing with and coaching a variety of players, I’ve learned that you seldom fully know what’s going on in someone’s life. The guy who laughs, has fun, and works hard at practice might be returning to an unimaginable situation at home. The player who excels at everything with ease and is the envy of his teammates might be battling depression or destructive habits that are ruining his life.

Proverbs 14:13 puts it this way: “Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, and the end of joy may be grief.”

True, isn’t it? We hide our pain and our short-lived joy is often overwhelmed by the grief in our lives.

Three things to consider:

1. Since we don’t always know what’s really going on in someone’s life, why not lead with grace, love, and compassion? Yeah, I get it, you have a job to do as a coach or player, but those guys on your team…they’re human. Treat them like it.

2. Be sure the field is the refuge God allows it to be. So far as it depends on you, work so that your team atmosphere is one that provides everyone involved with a place to belong, to vent, to heal, and to gain strength for life’s journey.

3. If you’re the guy whose laughter only hides pain, pay close attention to this…baseball can’t fill your soul. It can’t. It can do many things for you, but it can’t do that. Only the one who created your soul knows how to fill, heal, and complete it. The emptiness you feel is a longing for Jesus, even if you don’t know that’s what it is. One day, baseball will leave you. Jesus never will.

Lord Jesus, keep these things on my mind today. I give you my hurt and I want you to make me whole again. Thanks for baseball as a temporary refuge, but I’m placing my trust in you.