My dad always did a pretty good job of managing (as in… “lowering”) my expectations. But dad died 30 years ago. He taught me how to play cards, and he was good at it. When I complained about my hand, he would say, “When you learn how to play with those, I will deal you better cards.” Then he’d laugh. He was not a sympathetic man. If I complained about my struggles in school or sports, he would “encourage” me with the thought, “Whoever told you life is supposed to be fair?” I miss his optimism in my life. Ha-ha.
I couldn’t help but think of dad during this year’s Fantasy Football season. I drafted a solid team. They were all predicted to be world-beaters but I was quickly reminded, “Past statistics are no predictor of future success.” I started my season by losing four of my first five match-ups–against teams in my own division, putting me in a pretty deep hole!
I can’t remember a season when my team did not make the play-offs, so this “losing thing” was a new experience for me. But in the absence of my earthly father, my Heavenly Father decided to renew my education in the unfairness of life. Several of those losses came on weekends when I was the second highest-scoring team, meaning that the one team that beat me was the only team in a league of twelve that outscored me! Arghhhhhhhhhhh… Despite my losing record, on five different weekends, my team was the highest scoring team in the entire league. Yes, God was definitely messing with me.
Well, my season just ended and I finished out of the playoffs but with a good shot at winning the first draft position for next year if I could beat the other eight losing teams also ruled out of the playoffs. No problem, even the experts predicted I should dominate. But alas I fell short by four points. Two of my players (including my starting QB), broke their legs that weekend, another starter broke his shoulder and a third broke his hip. I feel sorry that those guys had the bad fortune of being on my team at the exact moment God decided to teach me a lesson.
I’m convinced my season had to be a God-thing. I had the second highest power-ranking of the twelve teams in our league. My team also scored the second highest number of points during the season, second only to my son, the league champion (adding insult to injury). My team put up 1,571 points while the league average was only 1,434. (Tell that to the league commissioner and see how far it gets you!) Sadly, I also had the most points scored against me this season; a total of 1,619. The league average of points scored against all other teams was only 1,460. And that, my friends, is how I ended my season out of the play-offs with an 8-8 record. Just call me Ocho/Ocho. Move over Jeff Fisher. Talk about life not being fair!
There is a biblical connection to all this silly talk about football and fantasy leagues. Solomon wrote:
I have seen something else under the sun: ‘The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.’
In other words, “The past is no predictor of the future, and life is not always fair.” Duh! All the more reason to put hope not in our own schemes and strategies but in the Lord. I can’t be certain about the future no matter how wisely I plan my strategy, but I can trust the ONE who knows my future and who has promised to never leave me nor forsake me.
How can we face this uncertain world with confidence? The apostle Paul told the younger man Timothy,
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
I will always do all I can to win and succeed in life, but I’m better at suffering setbacks. Disappointments make me smile to wonder what God is trying to teach me. And, in all honesty, I realize not everything that happens in my life has anything to do with me! How presumptuous to think that my happiness or my frustration is why God caused a certain player to have a good game or a bad game. Ha-ha! But no matter the outcome, I’m reminded of what truly matters and what does not. I was able to sincerely and gladly congratulate those in our league who won… (even though they didn’t deserve it.)
Paul also reminded Timothy,
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
I am always a winner because I know the definition of true winning. Happy New Year!
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4
- Why do you think God created people to be so different?
- How important were the opinions of others to Jesus?
- Did Jesus win or lose on the cross?
When it comes to competition,
A.) I am never satisfied unless I win.
B.) I’m sincerely happy no matter what the outcome.
C.) I avoid competition as much as possible.
What's your opinion?
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Lord and Savior Jesus; help me in the New Year to live as You would have me live. Help me to be truly happy for those who succeed and to be gracious and kind to those who suffer loss. Help me to realize that everything in life; the good, the bad and the indifferent presents an opportunity to demonstrate your love towards others and draw them to know You better. Open my eyes to see how I can represent You in the lives of my family and friends. Thank you for Your promise to be with me always until my life is ended. Help the joy of Christmas to permeate my life throughout the New Year. In Jesus’ name; Amen.
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Stephen Hower, Pastor