Dealing with disappointment in football, life
Congratulations to Coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide football team for winning another National Championship last night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Though that congratulation is sincere, it doesn’t mean that I, along with thousands of other Georgia fans are not disappointed. After waiting 37 years for another shot at the national crown and after leading the Tide for more than three quarters, it looked like the Bulldogs could actually pull out the victory and become the champions of college football. Following that sensational win over Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl the week prior, it looked like Georgia was actually going to capture college football’s greatest prize.
But it wasn’t to be! Late in the game, the best team took charge. Oh, I know Georgia lost in overtime, but in my opinion the dye was already cast in the fourth quarter. Georgia’s victory simply wasn’t to be.
Now I know that the disappointment I’m feeling this morning doesn’t hold a candle to some of life’s greater disappointments. However, this experience has given me cause to think of disappointment itself, and that’s my subject for this article.
A small girl, weeping terribly over a broken doll, spoke for multitudes when she said, “I’m sorry for me.” She spoke for a disappointed business person whose business was on the rocks and for a high school student who missed a college scholarship by a fraction of a point. She spoke for a young man whose fiancé married his best friend and for a young woman who struggled to stay in college because she missed being pledged to the sorority of her choice. She spoke for a college graduate who can’t find a job and for an older person whose health is failing. In one way or another, that small girl spoke for everyone of us as well. Ultimately, we all have one thing in common — we face the acid stare of disappointment, “I’m sorry for me.”
Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, but there were times when things did not go even as he wished. There were times when he, too, was tempted to say, “I’m sorry for me.” But he didn’t. By following Jesus’ example in times of disappointment, we can also discover our own prescription for relief.
As Jesus turned toward his hometown of Nazareth, his heart must have been filled with anticipation and joy. He had just come through several absolutely fantastic days. He had stilled a storm, healed a woman of an incurable disease, cast demons out of a mad man and raised a little girl from the dead. For sure, he was looking forward to the joy of going home.
But tragically, Jesus discovered differently when he entered his hometown synagogue to teach. He discovered that his message was so challenging and inspiring that the people were shocked. They questioned his pedigree of being a carpenter and a local boy. They couldn’t buy his claim on the supernatural, and they were offended by him.
It is almost impossible to imagine the heartache that Jesus must have felt as he walked into his hometown to find that the people he loved didn’t understand him. But these people not only didn’t understand him, they actually expressed hostility and even contempt for him. Jesus’ morale had to be at a low ebb. Most, certainly, he faced the acid stare of disappointment. When Jesus was tempted to say, “I’m sorry for me,” What did he do?
First, Jesus refused to quit. In the Syracuse locker room many years ago, during the Cotton Bowl game, a familiar sign was hung on the wall. More than likely you will remember this quote from that sign, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” As I said, Jesus refused to give up. He did not see in his disappointment a hopeless situation. Consequently, he did not lose his spirit or his zeal for the greater purposes of God. He continued right on with his ministry.
Suppose Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had quit. In the midst of his admitted disappointment, he did not give up and the Civil Rights Movement had its greatest champion.
Second, Jesus did what he could! Jesus was severely limited in Nazareth because of the people’s unbelief. But rather than giving up in the face of this overwhelming disappointment, and feeling sorry for himself, Jesus simply did what he could. He laid his hands upon a few sick folks, and he healed them. But what a blessing he must have been to those few sick folks.
A man wrote that when he was in grammar school, he quite frequently would ask his father to help him with his arithmetic. He said that his father was glad to help him but would always ask the same question, “Have you tried to work the problem yourself?” The man telling the story said that if he answered yes, his father would immediately come to his rescue.
The student who is disappointed because of low grades-have you done what you can? The marriage partner who is disappointed because of happenings in the home-have you done what you can? The citizen who is disappointed because of our nation’s slide in values-have you done what you can?
Third, Jesus lived in the confidence of God’s presence and trusted the rest to God. When Jesus had done what he could in Nazareth, he moved on and continued the task God had given him. When we’ve done all we can about our disappointment, we, too, can move on and trust the rest to God. The psalmist affirmed, “And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in you”(Psalm 39:7).
Congratulations again to Coach Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide for winning the National Championship of college football. But as an avid Georgia fan, I believe that that will be another day. Go Dawgs!
Hal Brady operates Hal Brady Ministries in Decatur with the stated goal of presenting the good news of Jesus and offering encouragement in positive ways. halbradyministries.com