It can be awfully difficult when life changes dramatically. When I think of dealing with difficult change in sports, I think of it, I guess, in ways that are mostly negative, I’m afraid. I think of Baltimore Colts fans, who, in March of 1984 discovered that their team had been moved to Indianapolis; of Browns fans who then saw their team move to Baltimore in 1996. Talk about change! Today, in Cleveland, the owner who moved the Browns away to become the Ravens is still considered the most hated man in Cleveland. Change is tough, especially when it is unwelcome. Especially when it is personal. Like the player who gets cut, or the coach who gets fired.
The same is true outside of sports. In churches, it may be when a beloved pastor leaves to undertake a different ministry. In marriages, it may be when a spouse leaves for another person. And, of course, in recent years, it has been the unwelcome change many have faced through loss of jobs, homes, retirement, and myriads of other losses. Change is not often welcome because it is so often painful. To that end, think of Joseph who experienced unbelievable unwelcome change in his life. His brothers sold him into slavery, his master’s wife lied about him and he was wrongly imprisoned, his friends (who he had helped in time of need) abandoned him. 13 years of slavery and prison later, it would be easy to become embittered by the painful changes he had faced. But Joseph had confidence in the ability of God to accomplish great things through the most painful of changes, and would later tell the very brothers that had sold him into slavery:
Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:19-21)
How could he see things that way? Because his confidence and trust in God far outweighed his disappointment and heartache created by painful, unwelcome change. The key is this: what do you believe about God? If you believe that He is in control, then the changes of life are in His control as well. The question is this: in times of painful and unwelcome change, will I trust Him? That is the dividing line between hope and bitterness.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain