I wore # 8 in college at Murray State University. After wearing 9 in high school, I hoped to remain with that on my back, but it was unavailable when I arrived on campus. After offering to pay the teammate wearing it, I was denied and forced to choose a new number.

To those who aren’t baseball people, disappointment over a uniform number seems silly. I promise it is not. Your number becomes part of you, and you part of it. I was ‘niner’ in high school. That number was everywhere…on my locker, my car, my jackets, my signature. Everywhere. I WAS # 9.

And then I wasn’t anymore.

Faced with the disappointment of losing my number, I chose a new number based on one player: Cal Ripken, Jr.

During that fall of 1995, Cal Ripken was close to breaking Lou Gehrig’s unbreakable record of consecutive games played. Since 1982, # 8 had suited up for the Baltimore Orioles every day. His perseverance was legendary, playing through injuries, illness, and all the rest.

Faced with disappointment, I chose the number synonymous with perseverance. I wish I had known then just how profound that is.

As he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ disciples slept. He woke them with disappointment in his voice. Three times he prayed. Three times they slept. Three times he faced disappointment from his closest friends.

The mob demanding his arrest soon arrived. In the face of surrounding disappointment, Jesus spoke words of perseverance: “Get up, here comes my betrayer.”

In other words, it’s time for the next thing.

And that’s perseverance: just doing the next thing.

Disappointment can be paralyzing. Just do the next thing.

Disappointment can be overwhelming. Just do the next thing.

Disappointment can be painful. Just do the next thing.

Disappointment can be confusing. Just do the next thing.

A pandemic, a canceled season, an uncertain future. Just do the next thing.

Jesus went to the cross. He just did the next thing. And it was huge. Praise God he did.

When faced with disappointment, look to Jesus, obey his word, and just do the next thing.

No more. No less.

Lord, show me the next thing you want me to do, despite my disappointment.