“Bible Passages Inspire Jean Driscoll To Persevere Through Adversity”
In 1966, Jean Driscoll was born with spina bifida or “open spine.” At that time, nearly half of the babies born with this condition died from infection or other complications. Surviving her earliest days was touch and go, but she persevered and grew up to become one of the most decorated international wheelchair athletes.
Over the course of four Paralympic Games, Driscoll won five gold medals, three silver medals and four bronze medals. She also set a women’s wheelchair record with eight wins at the Boston Marathon.
According to Driscoll’s interview for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes book Excellence, Bible verses such as Romans 12:12, John 17:4, and Isaiah 40:28-31, provided the necessary inspiration to pursue excellence and fight through the temptation to give up when things got tough.
“Perseverance has been one of those things at my core,” she said. “It took me two or three times the effort to do what everyone else was doing. In the 14 seasons I trained, it was twice a day, six days a week and sometimes seven days a week. I left it all out on the field. Not everybody had the ability to do that and there were some people who just came in and went through the motions and I never understood that. But the Bible is clear about how God has given His all for us and we are made in His image. So we should mirror that in our lives by giving our all for Him in whatever we’re doing.”
After Driscoll retired from competition, she set out on a new mission—to help supply wheelchairs for athletes in Ghana. In the role of coach, she used Daniel 7:9, a passage she stumbled across in a 2002 Bible study group, to inspire her pupils to see value in their circumstance. The verse says God’s “throne was flaming fire; its wheels were blazing fire.” (HCSB)
“Daniel is giving a description of God,” Driscoll explained. “It says that there are wheels on His throne and then it says there’s fire coming out from behind it. Not only does God’s throne have wheels, He burns rubber! Anytime I’ve had an opportunity to talk with people who use wheelchairs and feel bad about being in a chair, I tell them, ‘Not only are you made in the image of God, but your wheelchair is made in the image of His throne!’”