Team USA won the women’s World Cup today. Congrats to them ! Watching important soccer matches the 1 or 2 times per year reminds me of my soccer experiences growing up. Mostly, they were good memories.
Being on a varsity sports team, traveling to different high schools around NJ and bonding with teammates is a priceless experience. That also gets you your prestigious varsity jacket, and in cold weather, also important. In my Sophomore year, tiny Hopatcong High School (we had 100 students in our graduating class) had our most successful year ever, qualifying for the NJ State playoffs. In that match I may have played my best game, where as a defender, assisted on both goals for a 2-1 upset victory. We lost 1-0 in the next round to a school with thousands of students (it’s just the way it was back then) to end the season. Going into my Junior year, I expected an even more successful season, but in the 6th game vs. KIttatiny HS, we were leading 3-1 when my coach asked if I wanted to play offense (striker) for the last few minutes of the game for the first time. I eagerly agreed and almost scored off a corner kick a minute later. A few seconds more and I somehow ran past the entire Kittatiny defense from midfield and was 1 on 1 with the goalkeeper. I pushed the ball out in front of me to wind up and deliver a strike and the goalkeeper ran out from the net at the same time to challenge me. I swung my leg forward as hard as I could, the keeper lunged forward, and my leg and his forearm violently collided at the same time, the ball going straight up in the air. I knew I was hurt but didn’t know how much. I asked my teammates to help me to my feet, but my leg collapsed. I had shattered both bones in my lower leg and my season was over. I was crying, but not from the pain in my leg. When I was carried off the field, my leg was dangling awkwardly as there was were no bones holding anything together, and just like that my HS sports career was over as I was whisked to the hospital by ambulance. My hard cast covered everything except my toes, all the way to my upper thigh.
WHY God? WHY?
Anyway, earlier it was emotional service for me. First Chase spoke about a painful crisis in his early Christian faith, and how, over a week’s time, he went from being at his lowest moment in his life to being joyfully restored to God. It was moving. I’ve written in the last few weeks that I’m going through an employment/financial crisis myself. I’ve never been unemployed this long and the thought of “everything can change in a week” was super encouraging.
Then Tony shared about something that plagues me daily… Why does God allow horrible things to happen to good people and seem to reward those who are evil and wicked. I can’t tell you how many times I saw co-workers doing unethical things (with senior management aware) and go unpunished, yet I lost my job of 10 years because of office politics. I’m fortunate though, as my trials are just career events. I have been praying for more people with life-changing health and faith issues than anytime in my life. I have a spiritual foundation, so I try to think of the bigger picture and it’s hard, but what about NON-believers? Many times you’re the only true Christian they know and they want the answer to that question…
Sunday was part 1 of Tony’s “HOPE when it’s hard” and I already knew that part… Unfortunately there are more parts to this sermon, and we’re not hearing it all today. What we did get was that there’s a solution besides a) Denial, and b) Walk Away…which is c) Embrace and Wrestle. The book of Habbakuk illustrates this perfectly. The writer wanted to know why God was allowing his people to go through tremendous hardship and allow “injustice, wrongdoing, destruction, violence, strife, and conflict to abound”. Habbakuk questioned “how long Lord must I call for help and you not listen?”… I’ve said those words myself. Unfortunately the writer gets a bad answer from God…that the worst is yet to come.
I don’t know why yet. James 1:2 says I “should consider it pure joy when I face trials of many kinds…” but easier said than done. Even Jesus said “My God, my God WHY have you forsaken me?” while on the cross. So maybe my situation, despite what everyone says, will NOT work itself out as in the past. Maybe the worst is yet to come… It’s great when we can connect the dots after trusting God, to see the bigger picture and the victory afterwards. Sometimes we can’t. I’m still not sure why my leg shattered or I’m out of work, but I’m going to Embrace and Wrestle instead of Denial or Walk Away and that’s all I know right now…