Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water! Whew! Poor Roger Goodell. He’s taking a licking, and the poor guy is barely ticking. Last week, the Commissioner of the National Football League had his hands full. As if the Ray Rice domestic violence fiasco wasn’t enough, by the end of the same week, another all-star got in trouble and it’s all over the news. Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings was indicted, imprisoned and “impounded” by his team for child abuse. Oh boy. In light of all of this at the same time, what’s an NFL Commissioner to do?
And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. Another NFL player, Jonathan Dwyer of the Arizona Cardinals, was indicted for domestic violence. AND if that wasn’t enough, the Carolina Panthers decided that star defensive end Greg Hardy won’t play any more games for the team until his domestic violence case is resolved. My, my, my.
The cries for Goodell’s head are getting louder and louder. If Goodell wasn’t in hot water with the Rice “incident,” he sure is now.
Sometimes, just when you thought things were going to get better, they got worse. As believers, how do we deal with disaster? How do we deal with adversity and atrocity? Christians are supposed to be the poster children for how to deal and how to cope and how not only survive, but to thrive amidst turmoil and trauma and stress and strain. We are the examples and exemplars and samples and specimens for how to overcome.
The best athletes overcome and overtake and overwhelm and overpower every obstacle that comes their way in order to win. In fact, sometimes it takes trials and tribulations to prompt us to achieve. Speaking of the Jewish people just before they left and while they were yet still slopping slaves in Egypt, the Bible says that “the more that the Egyptians afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew” (Exodus 1:12).
Because we believe in and trust in and have faith in a higher power, we can rest and relax when the chips are down. When our funds are low and our debts are high, when we want to smile but we have to sigh, that’s when the Christians of 1st Century Rome were, and that’s when Christians of every age are at our best.
Like a ship that’s tossed and driven, battered by an angry sea; when the storms of life are raging, and the fury falls on me; I wonder what I have done, to make this race so hard to run; And I say to my soul, ‘Soul take courage, the Lord will make a way somehow.’
So what do we do when all else fails? What do we do when all is falling apart and nothing is coming together? Call on Jesus! The disciples found themselves in the middle of a storm, and Jesus lost himself in the hull of the boat and went to sleep. When things got real bad, they decided it was time to wake up Jesus. Jesus got up from sleep, rebuked the winds and the waves, and there was a great calm. How about that for a turnaround!
When it looks real bad, that’s when every child of the King can say, I believe it’s going to end up real good. What the devil means for our destruction, God can turn around and use as part of our construction. Where sin and shame and chaos and confusion and disaster and destruction and muck and mire and all kinds of mess abound, that’s where grace abounds all the more.
Good can come out of this NFL mess. It can. President Abraham Lincoln quoted the 19th Psalm in the Gettysburg Address, which is etched on the walls of the Memorial that bears his name: “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether” (Psalm 19:9). Correction and guidance come from Heaven and not from hell. And if we repent and turn around, we will experience turnarounds. But we have to believe and trust God that it can and that it will.
So don’t get stuck in the mess. Don’t wallow in the mire. If you want things to go the right way, and you’re ready and willing to turn to God for help, your litter and clutter and refuse and rubbish can and will be recycled into something that can be of good use for you and for everyone else around you as well.