For those of you just joining me, I'm taking real comments about God from this article about Steve Johnson blaming God via Twitter for his TD drop and discussing them a bit. This may last a day or a week; I'm not really sure. I'm just moving through the comments chronologically for the most part. I might end up addressing everything relevant in this one post. Who knows. This isn't super eloquent...just me rambling. Here's one of the first comments:
I find this refreshing. God gets thanked for Oscars, Emmys, BET Awards and Super Bowl victories. And its always said that God controls everything - so why not share the blame for failures? At least he followed it up with continued thankfulness.
Not a bad point. I get this feeling that thanking God after winning an award or a game is becoming more and more of a joke to the general public. I've heard a lot of jokes cracked about it (some light, some more scathing) by comedians, actors, athletes, pundits, and people I know personally. There are probably a lot of reasons for that. I think one is that there's some cynicism when we see someone in a moment of bliss drop a line about God, but after that, they're pretty much mum on God. That applies especially to when things are going wrong, like Sunday's drop (which is also why this commenter noted Johnson's tweet was refreshing).
...I don't want to be cynical. I think it's a good thing to turn back and thank God in the moments where it's most tempting to congratulate ourselves. No matter how hard we've personally worked at something, our situations always teeter on the fence. One faint gust of wind, and we are in disaster; another faint gust of wind, and we are successful. To take all the credit ourselves is to deny that we're constantly walking a fragile tightrope.
At the same time, just because someone remembers to thank God in their prepared speech doesn't mean they have any clue who God really is and how He really works. Just because I thank my mom after a meal doesn't mean we get along (I do, by the way, get along with my mom).
If we don't really know God, then it's easy to thank Him when things go well and start viewing Him as our good luck charm (and this is where my cynicism wants to say that most people who thank God on TV don't really know God that well). "Because God and I are cool, awesome things will happen to me." A lot of people want God to work this way, and so when we see a story like this Johnson story, there is a chord struck inside us that says..."Yeah, really--where the heck were You, God?"
So where does God fit when we're not winning football games or Oscars or talent shows?
I'm sure that moment on Sunday was devastating for Johnson. Shoot...millions of people were watching. His career's just taking off. I've definitely had moments that have blown up in my face. I've definitely screamed at God and demanded to know why He'd let that happen to me. I've definitely thought that no good could possibly come of this pain.
Well, I've been wrong, just about every time. Now if you want to get into why there is murder and rape and torture, that's a whole other can of worms. But if we're talking about something like dropping a touchdown pass, scraping up my car, blowing an interview, or being rejected for a job, I can say pretty confidently that it's very shortsighted to assume those situations are 100% pure evil with no possible redemptive or educational or positive value.
When I hear a sentiment along the lines of, "If God really cared about us or existed, why would He let me fail like that?" I don't think it's anger about the failure itself. Any reasonable person should be able to look back at their life and look at thousands of other people they know or have read about and realize that without some kind of failure, we'd never grow. We'd not actually be living real life. I think it's probably, deep down, anger that God doesn't work the way we wish he worked. Failure sucks, and we don't want to deal with it.
The best I can really say about all this is that life doesn't work out so that we hit no bumps along the way, and there's no documentation of that being how God works. When I was seven, I questioned my parents all the time when things didn't go my way. I have more insight now. I wouldn't question them today. I have to believe that at the end of all this, I'll look back at my current questioning and view myself as that seven-year-old again.
I'll leave you with a comment that made me laugh:
I dont think God gives a sh*% about football. I pray to him every Sun. morning and he hasn't answered my prayers for eight straight weeks now!
Poor Bengals fans.