The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

Lessons on Heaven from the Chicago Cubs

Posted on: October 25, 2016



Something historic happened in Chicago last Saturday night: the Chicago Cubs won the National League Pennant and will be going to the baseball World Series. But if you’re not a sports fan (nor a Cubs fan) keep reading. This isn’t a sports or Cubs blog post. It’s a post about eternal perspective.

To set the stage, the Cubs have not been to the World Series since 1945! The reason is articulated in an op-ed piece by Jonathan Turley, not a gullible rube, but rather the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University and a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors:

The Cubs have a real curse. It was duly recorded by witnesses in 1945 when Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis became irate when he was asked to remove his pet goat, Murphy, from Game 4 of the World Series. The goat smelled and fans complained. The Greek immigrant and his Irish-named goat left in a huff, and Sianis was heard to curse, “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.” And we didn’t. We were up by two in 1945 and vanished as a contender faster than the lingering stench of that ill-begotten goat.” *

So, whether they truly believe it or not, grown men and women of otherwise reliable judgment have looked to the “billy goat curse” as the reason why the Chicago Cubs have become commonly regarded as one of the worst teams in baseball.

The Cubs have developed a reputation for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory decade after decade. In spite of that, the Cubs have, arguably, the greatest fans of any sports team in America. Certainly the most loyal, as their antiquated stadium is sold out game after game.

However, after the historic game Saturday night in which the remarkably talented Cubs easily dispatched the Los Angeles Dodgers, the general feeling is that the curse has been broken, and the jubilation in Chicago Saturday night was nearly boundless. The revelry flooded into the streets where 30,000 people laughed, shouted, and congratulated each other. And many did not even leave the stadium until more than an hour after the game was ended. It is possible that there has never been such a feeling of genuine release in all of sports history.

And as I read news articles from the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune, I was struck with the nature and character of the response by loyal Cubs fans.

In several of the news articles, “tears” were mentioned. People openly wept, and while some reveled enthusiastically, others were quiet and pensive. A number mentioned loved ones who had passed away, and wished that they could have lived to see this day. A 92-year-old woman reported that, while she wished her two brothers and father could have lived to see this day, she was happy beyond words that she had. Chicago Tribune columnist David Haugh wrote, “The weight is lifted. The wait is over, at last.”

I have never witnessed a celebration with quite the same “spirit” as the one Saturday night.

I am not a loyal Cubs fan, but I have been pulling for the Cubs to win, simply because the appeal of the “lovable losers” shedding their losing image has been irresistible for me.

However, the reason I decided to write about it today has nothing to do with sports, but rather with a continuation of a theme I have been addressing for several weeks: a divine perspective on suffering.

It appears that those who have suffered tend to have a greater capacity for joy when the suffering is over. The greater the trial, the greater the joy.

Since the Chicago Cubs last won a World Series, in 1908, the New York Yankees have won 26 World Series. However, in my assessment, the celebrations in New York over their many wins do not approach the transforming joy of the celebration in Chicago that singular evening of October 22, 2016.

In the blog two weeks ago, we made the observation that greater suffering resulted in these benefits:

  • The potential for greater ministry (2 Corinthians 1:3-4.)
  • The potential for greater spiritual completeness (James 1:2-4).
  • The potential for greater thankfulness and worship (1 Peter 1:6).
  • The potential for eternal reward (Romans 8:18).
  • And, as John Newton says in his poem, the destruction of  “schemes of joy” so that we might find full and complete joy in Him (Galatians 2:20).

So, while there are no new verses to highlight this week, the example of the Cubs victory celebration, after such an unprecedented drought, was so powerful I didn’t want to miss it.

Since God is a picturing God, we may find that the trials and suffering that we experience here on earth will give us a greater capacity for unbounded joy in heaven.


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