“Maybe deep heartache takes the nearly impossible to cure because, having lost hope, the only remedy is for it to be replenished by what feels too much like a miracle to ignore.”
Bill Reiter’s opening to his piece on the Cub’s improbable victory--pardon me, mauling of the Indians last night strikes a chord in the heart of every underdog-loving American. We were watching when young Cub Addison Russell crushed a third inning grand slam over 434 feet, through the exit tunnel in center-right field.
Pandemonium! What a hit! What a reversal of fortunes! Maybe they can do it! Maybe, after 108 years, and down three games to one, the Cubs can win the pennant!
As exciting as it was to watch I have to admit that I am bemused by Reiter’s and other sports reporters’ spiritual allusions to what is, after all, only a game.
“When they move us to tears,” he writes, “to joy, to ebullience, to uncertainty and captivation and heartache and, most importantly, to awe -- that is when they rise above some silly game and become something deeper and richer. Something truly lasting.”
Reiter isn’t wrong to say that. In fact I agree with him. Yet the ephemeral nature of such events and our attraction, even our need for them, speaks to something deeper, reveals subterranean longings in our souls.
I remember the thrill of local hero Ward Burton’s 2002 Daytona 500 win. I was ready to paint my station wagon Caterpillar yellow. Yet Ward left NASCAR a few short years later. Current Cubs’ players, like my Atlanta Braves hero, John Smoltz, will sooner than later, be sharing a broadcast booth rather than standing on the mound in the world’s biggest baseball contest. And of course, the Cubs could go down in flames tonight!
Our enthusiasm for these transient victories testifies to deeper longings, truer truths, and our need for lasting hope. The deep heartaches we endure as members of the human race can only be healed by a miracle that offers hope.
That miracle happened and is not ephemeral, but lasting, truly too great to ignore. For one day long ago the underdog of all underdogs went up against a dynasty and went down three straight days. Buried under a curse his fans fell away with no hope at all until an amazing thing happened – like a bases loaded homer with two outs he came back to life. Hope everlasting was reborn on that day and continues down to this.
So if you’re looking for hope and awe that will outlast this year’s World Series, look to Jesus who took your brokenness, your shattered dreams, all of your errors and mistakes, and crushed them at the cross sending them, as it were, over the fence, as far as the east is from the west. Look to Jesus and live with everlasting hope.