Perhaps you heard the news this week… the Chicago Cubs broke their 108-year drought to win the 2016 World Series of baseball. Big news – hard to miss! Cubs fan or not, you have to admit that it was a historical moment and exciting to watch if you enjoy the game of baseball. Plus it gave us some respite from this vicious political season!
Many of us have a thing which will take us on an emotional roller-coaster – your favorite sports team, the outcome of an election, even an intense TV show or movie. Die-hard Cubs fans know this better than anyone! Dreadful lows (down 3 games to 1 and heading back to Cleveland) and gleeful highs (a perfect throw to 1st base in the bottom of the 10th inning after a rain delay in the 7th game of the World Series).
I work in an office building with small cubicles and we have become accustomed to functioning all day in close proximity to many people. Conversations carry easily; no secrets in this small space! On the day after the Cubs won, hours of productivity were lost to conversations about the ups and downs of that game, the Series, the season and the last 108 years! One of those “die-hard” fans sits about 10 feet from my desk – there was a constant stream of people stopping by to rehash the details.
At one point, I heard my colleague describe his despair when his Cubs were down 3 games to 1. He said he felt empty – he was ready to abandon his team for good! But he didn’t; he watched and lived the experience to the very end. I then heard him say that the despair he felt actually helped him enjoy the victory more. The emotional roller-coaster created by the Cubs made the World Series win that much more sweet!
I sat at my desk that day, enjoying the office banter for once. These comments made me smile. I doubt that within his fanatic state, he realized the wisdom behind those words. And I am absolutely certain that he has no clue I would use his emotional state over the Cubs to write a blog about faith!
You’ll hear people say – or perhaps you’ve experienced for yourself – that faith and trust in God is stronger during times of despair than during times of contentment. I’ve had conversations lately with people coping with grief and sadness. They want the feeling of brokenness and emptiness to fade away – no question. Yet in the midst of despair, they found clarity and purpose. They have experienced the loving presence of God in a meaningful, life-altering way. If given the option to go back in time and not experience this pain, they wouldn’t – without the grief they would also miss the deeper connection with God. The despair makes the peace and joy experienced through God’s steadfast love that much more precious!
Life is a roller-coaster. There will be joy and there will most definitely be pain. It is part of being human. So we must use those moments of pain to gain insight about ourselves – how we react and cope with life’s realities. And we must certainly use those moments to seek and find God’s presence through it all. Within those moments of brokenness we realize that our control over life will fail; real peace comes through ultimate trust and faith in God’s control!
“For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:16-17