The other day I was watching football on the telly. It was Manchester United v Liverpool, a game which, for Liverpool fans like myself, is one of the biggest games of the year. For the first time in years Liverpool went into the game ahead of United in the league. Not just ahead, but a massive 11 points clear and as the form team in the country. Pundits were queuing up to predict a comfortable Liverpool win, despite the fact that they hadn’t won away against United in five years.
And yet, I was pessimistic. I could see that form counts for very little in games like this. I envisaged United suddenly turning their season around and coming good with a big win. I could see a nightmare for Liverpool.
Then, my kids pointed out that I always do this. I always look pessimistically on situations (unlike the tablet I’m typing this on, which just tried autocorrecting “pessimistically” to “optimistically”!). I’m always being all doom and gloom and never believing that the best will happen.
It’s true. I think it’s partly to soften the blow of any potential disappointment, but I do this a lot. Not just with football, but with life in general. I wonder if “Murphy’s Law” could be renamed after me sometimes, as I seem to believe so strongly in it.
Then I read these wordsand see, not only myself, but also Jesus’ answer to me.
“Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”” (Mark 9:21-24 NIV)
The boy’s father asks Jesus to help him overcome his unbelief. This is what I need, too. I need Jesus to help me overcome my pessimism and believe that things can and will turn out for the best. Even if it seems that it actually has gone wrong, I need to believe that He will make something wonderful out of the ruins.
He does it all the time. He takes broken situations, broken people, broken lives and makes the most wonderful image of humanity, love, compassion, sharing and giving that you can imagine. He has done it with me, and many others I know, so many times in the past that I have no excuse for any unbelief. As he says, “Everything is possible for one who believes.”.
As usual, I was wrong in my pessimism about the football. Liverpool won 3-0 and, frankly, it could have been more. They put in a fantastic performance which United were blown away by.
More importantly, though, God constantly puts in a fantastic performance which we are blown away by. He always comes through, in the end. We just need to believe.
With God you’ll never walk alone.