I preached on this matter not too long ago. But, the subject is so vital, it bears reiteration.
So, I am a fan of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Save for a couple of years with my wife after law school, I have never lived in Chicago, and I have only tangential relations to the city.
But, I am an avid fan of the Cubs and I have been so since I was about 9 and I watched the games with my grandfather. He was not necessarily a fan of the Cubs, but rather a fan of baseball.
In the early 1980s, I would find myself running home after school to catch the last few innings of the games. The crowd was always jovial and the players were skilled and gracious.
Cubs fans are a quirky bunch. Hated by many, misunderstood by many more, Cubs fans are some of the most loyal sports fans in the world. There is no middle-of-the-road Cubs fan, no casual Cub fan. If you are a fan at all, you are an avid fan.
You’re not a fan because of a winning tradition. The Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908, and haven’t made an appearance in an advanced level of the playoff all that often in the last 15 years or so.
And it’s not because they have an inexhaustible slate of marquee, franchise players past or present. The team has some, but not like other teams.
It is that way, perhaps, because if you are a Cubs fan, you are a fan of the team, the tradition.
In addition to being loyal and avid, Cubs fans as a general proposition, are an optimistic, persistent bunch of people.
They are the glass-half-full people, the never-say-die people, the anything-is-possible people, the never-give-up people, the kind of people who can look at a grim situation, and see some hope.
The people for whom Einstein’s definition of insanity — doing something over and over again and expecting different results — applies.
Cubs’ fans have gone 104 years without a World Series win, with many mediocre and even terrible seasons in between.
No matter how bad the previous season has been, no matter how bad the game last night has been, Cubs fans, because of their team’s history, are people that have had to learn how to wake up every morning, shaking off the past game, the past season and saying, “This is our game. This is our season.”
Attendance never drops off. Loyalty never seizes. It seems the more they lose, the more loyal we get.
It doesn’t matter how silent it seems the front office is to the fans concerns, they remain loyal. Cubs fans exhibit persistence and faith in their team. I am personally appalled by the owner’s politics. But, he is not the Cubs and is not why we love the Cubs.
God loves Cubs fans and people like Cubs fans. God loves people who are faithful and prayerful and optimistic. God loves people who are able to get up every day, no matter how bad things have been the night before or the year before, no matter how silent it seems God has been to their prayers, and pray until something happens, until something moves in their lives.
God loves the persistent.
Let me explain. In the scriptures, we see Jesus driving this point home about God loving persistence.
Luke 11 specifically highlights the importance of prayer in Jesus’ ministry.
When He got up from prayer, His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray, the same way John was teaching his followers. He said, when you pray, say “Our Father…”
And after that, Jesus speaks to them in a parable. He says, and I’ll paraphrase, suppose that there is a guy who has a friend coming to visit and he doesn’t have anything for him to eat. It is midnight and the stores are closed, so he goes to his other friend’s house to get bread.
He asks this friend for three loaves of bread and the friend says not to bother him because the door is locked and if he gets up, he would wake up his children and wife.
But Jesus says that the man will get up and give the man at the door the bread, not because of the friendship but because of the man’s persistence.
Finally, Jesus follows up with the famous “Ask and ye shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened…”
The Chicago Cubs have made a good run of it in all years, but this one in particular. I’m not sure exactly how things will come out, but that’s not important.
What is important is that the team and its fans got to this place in history by faithfulness, optimism, and persistence.
And God always loves that. So, they’ve already won.