The football season is under way. Expectations are riding high, and predictions abound for the fortunes of the sixteen clubs. Each new season begins with a clean slate, and even now a team can be no more than one win away from finals. Reports of players being fitter, stronger, faster than last season raises hopes for a better outcome than the previous year. It does not take long, however, for such expectations to meet painful reality for supporters of some teams – an experience which spreads to increasing numbers of clubs the further the year unfolds. Despite years having passed since tasting the ultimate success, many supporters still begin in hope and expectation that this might be the year.
Football supporters put up with a great deal year-in-year-out. The whim and fancy of coaches, players and administration can frustrate them no end. But they remain faithful. They are committed to supporting their team, and adding to the cause in the best way they know how. Setbacks and disappointments often seem to galvanise their concern and support. It is the hope that impels them forward.
There are marked similarities between the church and the life of a football supporter. We too are impelled by a grand hope, and at the same time wounded by present realities. Our expectations are indeed high – such is the promise of God and His kingdom – but are often frustrated by the whims and fancies of individuals, and impacted by setbacks and disappointments. We are given pause from time to time, in the same way that the prophet Jeremiah raised lament, to ask whether it is all worth it (Jer 20).
Each day of following Jesus offers us hope as at the beginning of a new season – a hope not without challenges, and not to be fulfilled without ongoing commitment on our part. It is a hope for which we truly need one another for support and encouragement, for we are not only ‘players in the game’ but supporters for one another.
April 7, 2002