I remember when the first Super Bowl was played in the 1960s. The Packers were the neighborhood bully, and the Chiefs never had a chance. Two years later, however, the balance of power began to shift as Joe Namath and his Jets shocked the football world by knocking off the feared Baltimore Colts. By the time the 70s rolled around, the AFC was the dominant conference and the Dolphins and Steelers dominated the decade, appearing in 7 super bowls and winning 6. The 80s brought the 49ers and their brilliant West Coast offense. In the 90s, the Cowboys and Broncos were the big winners, and, of course, in the last decade, it was the New England Patriots.
What all those decades have in common for me, however, is that not once in the 40+ years the big game has been played has my favorite team—the Cleveland Browns—been on the field. As a Browns fan, sometimes it seems like we are the Chicago Cubs of football—often close (see Bernie Kosar in the 1980s) but never in. So, for us weary Browns backers, there is the never-ending chorus of “wait until next year.” Once again this year, it is a chorus that will be led by yet another new head coach, Rob Chudzinski. It is an exercise in hope deferred.
For most of us, life in general bears greater similarity to the Browns’ frustrations than to the Patriots’ brilliance. We struggle, suffer loss, experience hardship, and battle our way through the daily struggles of life; and it is often hard—or worse. But for the believer, we have hope. Our hope however is not in a better season or pie-in-the-sky satisfaction. It is in the One who has promised us an eternity beyond imagination. Paul wrote, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18). Not worthy to be compared with the glory to come . . . now that gives me reason to hope. Even if my Browns never make the big game.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain