He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. He pitches for my favorite team. And from all I can tell, he’s a great guy. That’s a pretty good combination. But sometimes bad, fluky stuff happens to good guys.
Last Saturday, the St. Louis Cardinals were playing the Milwaukee Brewers. Adam Wainwright had breezed through four innings, doing what he does best — shut down opposing batters. But then it was his turn to pick up the bat, and when he hit a pop fly along the first base line, he began to run — only to tear his Achilles heel.
And just like that, his season was over. Off the field. Til next year. I hate that for Adam. For his family. For his teammates. And, as a fan, I hate to think what this means for my favorite team.
But life is like that, isn’t it? If it’s not an Achilles, it’s an aorta. Or a lost job. Or a lost relationship. Maybe this is why people say, Life just threw him a curve ball — because Life has a way of pitching you something you aren’t expecting.
But I am confident Adam will be okay. And I’m not talking about his Achilles. I hope that will be okay; no doubt he’ll have the best doctors and the best rehab. But even more than his foot, I am confident Adam will be fine because he sees the bigger picture: baseball isn’t life. And hardships don’t determine who we are.
On Adam’s twitter account, his last post before his lost Achilles is a video of a guy passionately preaching about the hope we have in Jesus. The preacher takes a look at Barabbas — the guy set free instead of Jesus — and then says: We are all Barabbas. All of us depend on Jesus for life.
What does all of this have to do with a torn Achilles? Nothing. And Everything.
Nothing, because followers of Jesus still face torn Achilles and blown aortas; broken hearts and broken relationships. Walking with Jesus provides no guarantees for your health, your safety, or your security. As the writer Eugene Peterson points out, hitting your thumb with a hammer hurts the same, whether you are a Christian or not.
But Adam’s faith has everything to do with his Achilles — because he knows what all followers of Jesus eventually come to learn: life is hard. Bad stuff happens. But our faith helps us see the Big Picture: that God loves us. That Jesus gives us life. That His Spirit guides us, in good times and in bad. For ultimately, our faith is not in our bodies, or our abilities, or our accomplishments, or life being exactly what we want it to be.
In the end, our faith is in God, who walks with us through whatever we face; who is present in whatever we face; and is still God no matter what.
I think Adam knows that. I hope you do, too. No matter what you face.