Jesus doesn’t promise to take away the hard work of our lives. He never says we will always be healthy or happy or that following him will be easy. He prepares us for quite the contrary, actually. But he promises rest and relief for those who have the courage to walk in his way and the faith to bring their burdens and weaknesses to him in prayer.
As glorious as the world is, it is also often broken, violent and hurting. So when we fail ourselves and wound and harm each other, let us turn our eyes to God and ask for strength to make it right. Let us find creative ways to make it better. Let us see the goodness in ourselves and share that with the world.
So they were intense games, “friendly” only in the soccer sense of the word, meaning a game between two countries that doesn’t count in a record book. But the games mattered to those playing, and that in itself is the glory of sports. To not play hard, to not compete, is to disrespect both the game and your opponent. But, just as on the world stage, the games ended with respectful handshakes and hugs, the sharing of water and smiles.
It’s a beautiful game. A wonder. A statement of faith in each other. A blessing cup.
This past summer, I accompanied my parish youth group on a one-week mission trip to Nicaragua, where we helped build homes and a school near the northern city of Chinendega. But first, we were told that we were going to climb Cerro Negro, a 2,400-foot high volcano that had last erupted about a decade ago.