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Drawing from our hardships

By the time you read this you'll know how we did. Was it an echo of the pain from 1990 in the semi-final? Or the agony of a final defeat? Or, dare I believe (writing the day after the 2-0 win over Sweden) that football is finally coming home?

Whatever the outcome, one man's stock has undeniably and immeasurably risen over the course of this tournament. Gareth Southgate was, remember it or not now, an uninspiring appointment as manager. He was seen as mediocre, perhaps the best England could get given no really successful manager was the slightly bit interested. He'd hardly set the world alight with the under-21s and his last act as a club manager was relegation with Middlesbrough.

Yet he's had an astonishing, galvanising effect not just on the England team but the whole nation. Even M&S are eternally grateful to him for saving their profit figures – he has single-handedly brought the waistcoat back from the brink of extinction. And he's done it being a thoroughly nice and decent bloke.

There was a moment following our win over Colombia on penalties that seemed to sum it up. One of his first acts was to go and console and encourage Colombia's Mateus Uribe, who had put his penalty against the crossbar. Southgate's own experience of having his penalty saved the last time England were in the semi-final of a major competition, Euro '96, gave him a real sense of empathy and compassion even for a defeated opponent.

Paul, the apostle, whose tough times were even worse than missed penalties, wrote this:
"God comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive." It would be so easy to give up when we face challenges and hard times but each of us can do this draw on our experience of hardship and pain to help others going through the same thing. Knowing that Jesus is willing to do the same for us.

St. Peter's Church

Last modified on Tuesday, 28 August 2018 15:56

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