On Hope & the Cubs

photo-1474225349448-b36696c95008My great-grandmother lived two blocks from Chicago’s Wrigley Field. She lived to be 103, her life bookended by a twentieth century Chicago Cubs World Series victory and yesterday’s twenty-first century one.

The true fans never lost hope that their beloved Cubbies would bring it all home.

My mom is from Chicago. My dad is from Peoria and used to regularly skip his college classes to watch the Cubs.

In graduate school, I lived above the Blarney Stone pub, just a quarter mile south of Wrigley. Nights were noisy, and during baseball season, there was nowhere to park.

That year the White Sox won the Series, and Sox fans flooded Wrigleyville after their victory, honking, taunting, and driving in circles until well after midnight.

“We can do it!” someone screamed out of a moving car. “How about you?”

There were times it was hard to be a Cubs fan. Hope was deferred and deferred and deferred. Patience was stretched.

Yet people hung on.

Why? What kept people loyal in the drought years? When the Cubs never really got off the ground? When a team just a few miles away grew to be a powerhouse and then won the World Series? When America is full of baseball teams to root for that actually win?

As one friend told me, “Once a Cubs fan, always a Cubs fan. They’ll win someday, and when they do, I want to be on their side.”

The parallels to the Gospel here are many.

It can be easy to jump off the Jesus ship. Life is long and hard, and being a Christian is not the way of ease and comfort; it’s the way of the cross.

So it can be tempting to trade radical self-giving, grace-filled holiness for a more culturally acceptable Gospel of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. It can seem appealing to let go of Jesus and hang on instead to consumerism, individualism, materialism, or any of the many other -isms that tempt us to follow them.

Millennia ago, the Gospels spoke of this temptation. Both Matthew 10 and Matthew 24 warn believers to “stand firm to the end.”

It’s easy to hope for things we can statistically prove. I hope to see snow when I visit Wisconsin and odds are, sometime in the next couple visits, that will happen.

But how do we keep hoping that Jesus is who he says he is? That he will do what he says he will do? Against sometimes insurmountable-seeming odds?

Let’s take a page out of the Cub fans’ playbook.

Jesus will win.

And I want to be on his side when he does.


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