Good Friday: Where is God when it hurts?
Good Friday: Where is God when it hurts?

Let’s state the obvious, sport hurts.

Sure, you have to train hard and sometimes endure pain to perform well, but what about injury? Being on the end of shocking decision from an official? What about abuse from a coach, or spectators? Being cheated out of a win by a doper?

Sport often hurts because it isn’t fair, and nor, often, is life.

Surely this isn’t how it was meant to be? Surely there is a better story for sport?

There is, and the story of Jesus’ crucifixion exposes it.

Why is sport painful?

At the beginning of the Bible in Genesis chapter 3 we read of Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God. Adam and Eve were created by God and given the ability to take care of and enjoy His good creation and live in relationship with Him. But they betrayed Him, they rejected God and this had disastrous consequences, shattering the relationship they once had with Him.

We are guilty.

We all follow this original rebellion, we accept God’s good gifts, but reject Him as the giver, this is what the Bible calls ‘sin.’

How does this play out in our sport?

  • We idolise our sporting achievement instead of worshipping God.
  • We harbour bitterness toward our opponents or teammates if they outperform us.
  • We lash out on the pitch or take part in cruel banter off it.

We all fall way short of God’s perfection, and this causes pain for ourselves and those around us.

Our sin is ultimately the biggest problem we face because the Bible says that eternal separation from a God, or death, is the just punishment for it. (Rom. 6:23)

Good Friday shows us Jesus as the solution to this great problem

This is where the better story for sport, and life starts. But this story is also painful.

On Good Friday we see sin at every turn as we read of Jesus’ journey to the cross and his brutal murder on it. We read of

  • Corrupt officials, colluding to sentence Jesus to death (Mark 14:55).
  • Physical abuse and humiliating bullying from onlookers (Mark 14:65).
  • Betrayal from close friends (Luke 22:4).

Today sport is often no different

  • Today we see corrupt officials, stepping on others, using sport to gain power and money.
  • Today we hear stories of racism, sexism, abuse and bullying from amateur to professional sport.
  • Today we are hurt when teammates gossip behind our backs, or we hurt others when we join in with cruel banter.

Jesus suffers every kind of pain imaginable, plus a pain we can’t imagine. You see Jesus’ life met the perfect standard, He never rejected God His Father. But, on the cross He’s totally rejected by God, and suffers death, as a punishment He doesn’t deserve.

How can this Friday be called ‘Good?’

This sounds awful, but it is incredibly good news, because Jesus doesn’t suffer without reason. He suffers to restore us to a right relationship with God. He dies sinless, in the place of sinners so that we might escape the punishment of death and freely live.

This sacrifice demands response

As Jesus hangs on the cross, two criminals hang next to him. One chose to remain in his rebellion against God and insults Jesus. But the other acknowledges that his wrongdoing deserves punishment, and he asks Jesus for forgiveness.

Jesus response is mind blowing, it is the better story, He says:

“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

(Luke 23:43)

You see Jesus is a saviour that isn’t distant, He suffers for us even when we’re at our worst, but we need to accept his offer of forgiveness, we need to allow Him to pay our debt.

So, where is God when sport hurts?

He is close by.

When sport hurts as a result of the broken world we live in be comforted that there is a God who knows what it is like to suffer. He is there with you and for you. You can come to Him when life really sucks, and sport often sucks, for every incredible moment there are countless crushing defeats, injuries and setbacks.

He is calling you to repent of your sin.

When sport hurts because of your sin, the only solution is the cross, the same cruel cross we’ve just talked about. So come to Jesus who died on the cross and trust in Him to deal with the biggest problem you will ever face. The problem that your pain, injury, dissatisfaction and disappointment in sport all point to - death.

Remember He suffered and died in your place - so you do not need to die. Will you ask Him for forgiveness and allow Him to restore you to new life?

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