It's September. For most of my life, that meant my fingernails were chewed back to the nubs, and every night God heard a prayer of "Please don't let them blow it." But seven years ago that all changed. September became a month of joyful anticipation. Until last night.
You see, I'm a lifelong Red Sox fan. For 30 years, I expected my team to blow it. No matter how big the lead or how safe it seemed, the Red Sox would find a way to screw it up. Then, in 2004, the moment we Red Sox fans had waited 86 years for finally came. We won the World Series. Eight and a half decades of frustration, nail biting and fervent pleas for a win disappeared in a four-game sweep. Three years later they did it again.
We thought the days of biting our nails and praying for just one more win were over. Until last night. When September started, the Red Sox were up nine games. They were a shoe-in for the playoffs. Then their bats went silent, and their pitching disappeared. They lost and they lost and they lost. It all came down to last night -- a win and they would at least get to play a one-game playoff; a loss and they would have to hope the Tampa Bay Rays lost, too.
The Red Sox took a one run lead into the ninth inning. They were one strike away from living to play another day when disaster struck. Two base hits, and the Orioles had won the game. The Rays beat the Yankees. Season over. It feels like the past seven years never happened. Only the Red Sox could have such an epic collapse in September. No team has ever had such a big lead at the beginning of September and not made the playoffs.
So, this morning, I'm bleary-eyed and a bit sad. And I'm reminded that life is too often like a Red Sox season -- full of promise until the losses come our way. When we're in the midst of a great season, we forget what the tough times look like. And when the tough times come, it's hard to remember the good times.
We go through seasons in life where we think we have it all together, we step up to the plate and we whiff again and again and again. We feel like we're in a hole so deep, we'll never climb out. One thing after another goes wrong -- kids get sick, jobs are lost, family issues arise. The success we felt a short time before disappears, and it seems we'll never get it back. Our joyful expectation disappears as quickly as a Red Sox lead.
Kids, especially have a hard time seeing past the immediate moment. When our kids are stuck in the middle of a tough situation that seems like it has no end, it's hard to get them to look past the situation to see that God has a plan.
Yet, we have something no baseball team has ever had -- the best clean-up hitter ever. God is always there to pick us up and walk us through the dark season. He's already won the ultimate game. He's triumphed over death and evil. No matter the outcome of our day, the winner has already been determined. It's God, and He's on our side.
Romans 8:31 says "If God is for us, who can be against us?" In this big game of life that we play every day, God is for us. He's the superstar on our team, and He never whiffs. While it may seem there's no way we're going to win, God is there, and He's going to carry our team.
God doesn't always step in and hit it out of the park, so we can get the result we want. But He provides everything we need to see us through the dark periods of our lives. He offers us comfort and direction and the assurance that all things will work out according to His plan, which is always in our favor. We can't always see that in the moment, but often we look back and we see that His plan was way better than anything we could come up with.
So, live today with the assurance that God is on your team, and He never loses. Remind your kids that no matter the outcome of a tough situation, God has already won, and since we're on His team, so have we.