On Sunday November 28th, the Buffalo Bills (not very good at football) forced overtime in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (generally pretty good at football). Overtime is sudden death-- first one to score wins. At one point, the Bills QB threw a perfect (it literally could not have been thrown any better) deep ball to wide receiver Stevie Johnson (above), right in his arms in the endzone...and Stevie dropped it (video here, if you can bear to watch it). The game would have been over, the home crowd would have gone nuts, and Stevie would have been a hero. Instead, the Steelers went on to win with a field goal, and Stevie felt terrible. He also felt angry at God. Here's what he said on his Twitter account immediately after the game:
I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO...
His response got a lot of media attention and his later tweets had him retracting his statement, saying he wasn't blaming God at all. But let's be real. That's precisely what he was doing.
It is very interesting to me that Johnson did this, because while you often hear players praising God after a victory, you don't ever hear them blaming God after a loss. Clearly, he was tweeting out of his frustration and anger, and wasn't thinking as clearly as he would have liked. And who hasn't felt this way?
I find this to be such a teaching moment. Here's why. Those of us who espouse faith can sometimes fall into this (usually unspoken) deal we think we've made with God that goes something like this. I agree to praise you, give you glory, and generally be a good person most of the time. And YOU agree to not allow bad or even unfortunate things to happen to me. As long as life goes along "as it should," this arrangement works out really nicely. And it's easy to praise God, because...what's not to like? When things don't go the way we want them to, out come the fists, shaking skyward: "I thought we had a deal!"
Nope, no deal. Here's the deal. We praise God in all circumstances, and trust that even when things don't go the way we'd like, God's purposes are at work. Stevie Johnson is a young man and so I think he'll learn as he gets older that life doesn't always go the way you hope it will. (He really could have learned this lesson had he spent any amount of time with Buffalo Bills fans, but oh well). The message of the Bible is that life is hard, but God is good.
Keep being honest, Stevie. That's what the psalmists teach us. But at the end of the day, God is God and He will work all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), many times in ways we don't understand.