If you have played any sports games over the last 20 years, at some point you have heard of the infamous “Madden curse” or “EA curse”. For all those who are sports averse, this is not about the sports themselves, but rather the bizarre alignment that seems to happen when an athlete receives the honor of being placed on the cover of their respective sports game, only to have an unfortunate and unpredictable downfall personally, physically, or professionally occur almost immediately afterwards. The most recent example of this is in a EA sports game that hasn’t even launched yet, UFC 2. Both of the cover athletes for this game, previously champions in their field, were promptly knocked out in their next fight, unceremoniously deposed before they were ever even crowned. The collection of athletes who suffered catastrophic injuries, personal tragedy, or career low points reads like a Who’s Who of sports. But is the curse real? Or is this a set of incredible coincidences that just so happen to align with the shining of the spotlight?
|Is this CURSE real?|
In all of recorded history, few people have ever had it as bad as the man named Job. Now here is a case study in enduring a cursed season in life. Have you ever lost a loved one? He lost all of his children in a freak accident all in the same day. Lost your source of income? All of Job’s possessions were systematically stolen or destroyed on that same day. Tough day on the job? All of his employees were murdered except for the one that came to report the news. I’m not sure anyone has faced quite a day like that. And it wasn’t over yet. By the time it’s all said and done, Job lost his possessions, his children, his health, and his friends all turned on him and took turns blaming him for this turn of events. And for you married folks, the cherry on this cursed sundae was the advice from his wife to curse God and die. Not exactly helpful.
In each of these cases, whether it was a professional athlete or our poor friend Job, these circumstances seem incredibly unfair and causes one to wonder why this would happen. And within the book of Job we get our answer… Not the answer we may want, but the answer we need. After enduring all of these undeserved catastrophes Job finally reaches the end of his rope, asserting that it would have been best if he had not been born. Brought to his lowest point, Job never loses his faith in God, but he certainly loses his faith in God’s plan as well as any potential future for himself other than pain and loss.
|He loses faith in God’s plan as well as any potential future for himself other than pain and loss.|
I’ve been there, and I haven’t even faced 1% of the adversity Job faced. But the results were the same, as I sat wallowing in my disappointment and confusion trying to make sense of a situation that I only had a limited point of view on. Was I targeted because I tried to fly too close to the sun? Is this the reward for trying to do the right thing, a bigger bulls-eye on my chest? Much like our cover athletes on the EA sports titles, I was left pondering if the events that challenged me now were simply payback for my previous sins being brought to light, or perhaps the unintended outcome for success in other areas. Or maybe there was a third option, some external force much like the aforementioned “Curse” that could explain what seemed to be the tremendous finality of failure hot on the heels of my brief run of success. Have you felt the same way? Haters materialize right as you are about to take the stage for an award, a huge expense landing just as you were about to pay off your debts, or maybe something as simple as an surprisingly heated conflict with a friend or loved one when you least expected it? Why can’t things just go right for once?
|Why can’t things just go right for once?|
While the Bible speaks of a variety of “curses” in the cases of sin and disobedience, we see from Job’s story that this is not the cause of his issues either. Instead, we get the curtain drawn back in a way that is both challenging and enlightening on a process in the heavens… a completely open account of the direct dialog between the Creator of all that exists and the enemy of our souls satan himself. Let’s pick up in the first chapter of Job, where we clearly understand that none of the things that are about to befall our protagonist are the result of any wrong-doing on his part. He is described as blameless and upright, so we can nip that in the bud right there. Starting at verse 6, we get the visual of God the Father having a gigantic meeting when who should appear but the devil himself, quick to rain on the parade. And it is in fact GOD, and not the devil, that brings Job’s name into things setting in motion the events of this book. God points to Job as an example of what a great man is, a picture of the blessed life in every possible way. Our adversary is quick to fire back a condemning response, that without the blessing provided to Job for his obedience he would be no different that satan himself, going so far as to say Job would CURSE God in response to losing what he possessed. Interesting choice of words, as we see that the devil is less interested in cursing us and more interested in causing us to curse God. But that is a can of worms for another day.
|The devil is less interested in cursing us and more interested in causing US to curse GOD.|
With the permission of our omniscient Lord, satan begins his path of destruction through the life of Job. After doing his worst and using the very words of Job’s friends to tear him apart and the advice of his wife to encourage him to fulfill the devil’s goal of cursing God, the devil stands over the once mighty and successful Job awaiting his response to all of these losses. Broken but not defeated, Job affirms that the beliefs that held him in the day would not be abandoned in the night. With a simple response to his wife that we should be willing to accept both good and adversity from God, he faced down the curses thrown at his life and rose above the challenge. And while his immediate situation around him had not changed, he had a commitment to having faith in a God he could not see, even through a situation he could not understand, and in the midst of a battle that he wasn’t even aware of in heaven.
The reality is that in every sports contest, be it football,basketball, boxing, ultimate fighting or any other you can name, 50% of the participants will lose. Failure is assumed by half of the participants. What about the injuries that occur? A quick review of football injuries showed that over 200 players last season experienced significant injuries that removed them from part or all of the season. So I hate to break it to all of us, but the EA/Madden curse is actually nothing more that the result of publicizing flawed individuals who have physically demanding jobs that include the risk of failure, injury, and mass publicity of any moral mistakes. Any number of athletes are experiencing failure or loss of health on a regular basis, and the only difference is that they didn’t make the cover of the game. The truth is there is more happening above and around us than we can comprehend, and more at stake than we will ever realize. The unseen war in heaven is REAL, and we are all a part of it. And what may seem like a series of unfortunate events serving only to bring you down is actually an opportunity for you to achieve success on Heaven’s grand stage. So the next time you feel as if everything you touch is cursed, or that all you can hope to do is hold on and survive, don’t give up the faith. Don’t give into the temptation to blame yourself or others, don’t lose your trust in God and His awareness of your circumstance, and whatever you do don’t give into the devil’s temptation to curse God for your predicament. Instead, travel the high road with Job and decide that your circumstances do not choose your responses. If you have chosen to accept and follow Jesus you are BLESSED, not cursed, no matter how bad it looks. It may just be that God is rubbing your faithfulness in satan’s face right now!