Even So, My Redeemer Lives
Job 19:1-7, 23-29
In 2010, ESPN aired a 90-minute live TV special called The Decision in which NBA basketball superstar LeBron James announced to the world that he would be leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers as a free agent and sign a contract to play for the Miami Heat. This high-profile announcement touched a nerve with many Cleveland natives, who felt that it was a public slur against the city and the team. Few persons felt more betrayed than Cleveland Cavaliers owner, Dan Gilbert, who dashed off an angry letter of response to team fans, calling the television event a "shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own."1
Four years later, after James and Gilbert had suffered criticism from the general public over their pettiness, Gilbert traveled to visit James in Miami to see if there was a chance he could persuade the star to return to Cleveland.
"We had five great years together and one terrible night," Gilbert told James, and so started the process of reconciliation. . . . "I told him how sorry I was. . . . I told him I wish I had never [written the letter], that I wish I could take it back." . . . James told Gilbert that he wished he had never done [the ESPN show] and that they had made mistakes together, that they could move past it. Soon, . . . the possibility of reunification had become genuine.2
Like Job, these sports figures had to listen to colleagues and fans judge them for missing the mark in their public displays of grief. However, there is nothing like reconciliation and forgiveness (and mutual monetary benefits) to turn things back around to the good.
1. The world of professional sports is often the location for public displays of outrage and cries of injustice. This is a world of millionaires and their high-level problems. Job was also a rich man when his troubles began. In what ways do their depictions of wealth differ, and how do you sympathize with each situation?
2. LeBron James and Dan Gilbert felt abandoned by each other. Job felt abandoned by God. How does a person come to feel that God has abandoned them? Do you spend more time thinking about your relationship with other persons or your relationship with God? or both?
3. Job looked ahead to the future, even in the midst of his suffering. "But I know that my redeemer is alive / and afterward hell rise upon the dust" (Job 19:25). In professional sports as well as life, dashed hopes are often replaced by faith in things to come. How does our faith in Jesus Christ influence our thoughts about better days to come?
Reverend Bruce Batchelor-Glader is the pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Port Clinton, Ohio.
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