Crucible Moments: Thriving in Times of Crisis

Brandon Burlsworth was arguably the best college football walk-on to ever play the game. In high school, many thought his athletic skills were laughable. His dreams of becoming an Arkansas Razorback were a pipe dream to the naysayers. Yet, to Burlsworth it was a reality soon to be realized.

Burlsworth, a skilled visionary, discerned tremendous opportunity in what seemed to be insurmountable adversity. He confronted and conquered many crucible moments in his life to become a college football All-American and third-round NFL draft pick.[1]

In crisis, you will have:

  1. Opportunity to trust God
  2. Opportunity to grieve or be joyous
  3. Opportunity to reflect
  4. Opportunity to mature
  5. Opportunity to be resolved and persevere

Opportunity to trust God

Crises unmask the brevity of life and confirm the need to trust God in the midst of tumultuous times.

Burlsworth navigated challenging times in life by trusting God.

You most likely have labored diligently in vain to construct titan tinder structures of success that are consumed by fiery trials. You have spent life’s invaluable resources to build mansions of “success” on the sands of temporary pleasure.

Yet, difficulty inevitably comes to stress test the foundation of your trust.

It would be prudent of you to consider who you put your trust in times of crisis. God is only worthy to trust during crucible moments.

Opportunity to grieve or be joyous

A crucible moment is often a bipolar experience of joy and grief. The ocean vistas of joy are engulfed by the dense fog of grief—life’s charted course is complete with smooth and rough seas.

Inspiration was Burlsworth’s life. Yet, impenetrable grief settled in the valley of the shadow of death on April 28, 1999.[2] He was tragically killed in a car accident on his way home to attend a church service with his mom.

Life is an unbiased teacher that is skilled at teaching complicated and confusing course material. It is easy to enjoy life amidst beautiful vistas. But what about when you must navigate the overwhelming dense fog when it descends in your life?

How do you maneuver in seemingly impossible times like these?

  1. Talk with a trusted friend and/or mentor.
  2. Gain insight from inspiring biographies (Unbroken, Through the Eyes of a Champion: The Brandon Burlsworth Story, For the Glory, The Hiding Place, etc.).
  3. Acquire true wisdom for life from studying the word of God.

An experienced mariner knows this: “A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner.”[3]

Regain your bearing by humbly seeking wisdom in times of grief and diligently search for joy. Joy will come in the morning.

Opportunity to reflect

Crisis is sure to bring sobriety to your life.

The immediate seriousness that the tragic death of Burlsworth was crippling for his family and friends.

Disorientation and desperation can cripple the sound mind. A logical perspective may be replaced by irrational, frenzied thinking. These moments are infused with chaos and confusion—too often void of clear thinking and calm emotions.

Yet, your experience in crisis will likely cause you to reflect on specific memories from your life. The chaff of vain pursuits is blown away (at least temporarily) in a swirling cloud by the prevailing winds of tribulation.

You remember the crazy and goofy fun you had with your dad when you were little.

You recall the laughs and tears you shared with your mother.

You remember the heartfelt counsel your best friend provided during a depressing time in your life.

Unfortunately, the permanence of crisis never goes away.

In times like these, take a pause. Consider how you can skillfully maneuver through your crucible moment.

You can find wisdom when you take time to plunder the storehouse of reflection—reminding yourself of timeless truths from the word of God.

Opportunity to mature

Crucible moments refine character in the forge of fiery trials.

Burlsworth endured cruel mockery from his teammates. Instead of becoming bitter, he seized this opportunity to mature into an inspirational team leader.

Crises reveal the true person.

The pressures of life will either make or break you. Adversity is standard operating procedure in life. This may look like this for you:

Your mom suffering and dying from cancer.

Your close friend dying in a tragic car accident.

Your close friend battling enslavement to drugs.

You are experiencing abuse from your father.

You are standing up for what is right in the face of severe opposition.

You are being bullied in school.

You were just diagnosed with a terminal illness.

What is your struggle during crisis?

Thinking about yourself. It is very easy to put yourself above others at critical points especially at times when your life is endangered.

The measure of a man comes at the tip of the spear of crisis.

What will you do?

Embrace humility and pursue maturity during crisis.

Opportunity to be resolved and persevere

Crucible moments are guaranteed to come, like stormy days.

For Burlsworth, he faced the real possibility of not donning a razorback uniform. So he committed to a disciplined life of honing his craft at offensive guard.

Have you endured any crucible moments? Are you facing one at this moment?

These kinds of circumstances test your resolve and resilience. Yet you have two choices: Complain, blame, and retreat in hardship, or seize the occasion to be resolved and persevere. Anyone can do the former, but it takes grit to be resolved.

Consider this the next time you are in a crucible moment: Only those with tattered boots have successfully traversed the tumultuous valleys of life.


Brandon Burlsworth overcame crucible moments by grappling with trusting God — not by being “comfortable.” He saw opportunity in the midst of crises to etch a legacy in the history annals of inspirational lives—confirmed by Coach Nutt’s motto, “Do it the Burls Way.”[4]

Though crucible moments are never pleasant, may you find yourself prospecting in this goldmine of opportunity so that you may thrive in these moments.

[1] Brandon Burlsworth Foundation, “About Brandon,” (accessed April 27, 2021).

[2] Brandon Burlsworth Foundation, “About Brandon,” (accessed May 30, 2021).

[3] Good Reads, “English Proverb,” (accessed April 27, 2021).

[4] Brandon Burlsworth Foundation, “About Brandon,” (accessed April 27, 2021).

About Dave Duell

Outdoorsman, conservationist, forester, father, husband, and Christian: Dave Duell owns and manages Legacy Land and Wildlife LLC and provides conservation and forestry services and guidance to Pennsylvania and Ohio. It's his passion to assist and educate land owners and other outdoors enthusiasts about the importance of being a good steward of their land and the wildlife therein. Learn more about Dave and Legacy Land & Wildlife by clicking here.


  1. Tonya on February 18, 2023 at 12:45 pm

    I love your crucible moments. It had me reflecting on my own crucible moments. Trusting God is the only way to find your way out of the storm. My children and I definitely have a different perspective on traversing life, school, relationships, church. When a storm comes we don’t fight against each other. We jump in our boat together and if one straggles behind, we patiently wait for them. The lost lamb will find its way. May you continue blessing others who read your story. Thank you

    • Dave Duell on November 17, 2023 at 12:42 pm

      Thank you for reading and commenting! I firmly believe we have a responsibility to tell others about how God comforts us in difficult times. Take care!

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