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11 July 2014

The big shame

The big shame

It was described as a humiliation, the biggest shame in history, a historical humiliation, a disaster and a slaughter.

You could easily think that these were comments made about any number of international/national debacles, wars, kidnappings and abuses but the headlines were actually referring to football.Yes, in 1980 Watford smashed Southampton in the League Cup7-1, having been previously beaten by them in a previous game 4-0. One reporter said that even thinking now about the day of the historic victory 24 years ago sends a shiver down his spine. Watford fans still talk of this astonishing victory today.

Apparently by bizarre coincidence, Brazil lost to Germany in the World Cup semi-final this week, with exactly the same result. Iconic images of David Luiz falling to his knees in prayer and Brazil
's manager Luiz Felipe Scolari saying it was the worst day of his life, got my brain cells firing up.

As the world reacted to the result the story started to trend. News stories about paedophilia, internet law changes, kidnappings, crises in the Middle Eastand strikes moved from the front pages to give it space.Tomaz Sardhinha became an internet sensation after TV cameras focussed in on him crying his eyes out, as Brazil got roundly thrashed by a clinical and ruthless German team. Tweets of him crying went global.

Understandably, Raphael Sardinha, Tomaz's dad, was a bit concerned about all the attention so decided to try and calm things down by posting a picture of his son smiling.This also went viral, so to further try and calm things down he decided to do some TV and newspaper interviews.

One thing Raphael said to the media mob stuck in my mind. It was, I would contend, a fine bit of wisdom:
"I'll repeat what I told Tomaz, as he sobbed after Germany's fifth goal: this is just a game. It tears us apart, but it is only a game."

I know followers of Jesus Christ whose whole mood is dramatically affected by the result of a footy match. I find that a bit odd. I know that I
'm opening myself up for a bit of flack, but it needs saying. I wouldn't go as far as Milton in Paradise Lost who implied that games are what demons do in their free time in hell, (he also said that about debating, tourism and philosophy) but there's a serious point to be made.

We know the truth. That this life isn't all there is (Philippians 3:20). We live with a sense of heaven on our shoulders and know that the decision we made for Jesus Christ affected where we will be 10,000 years from now (John 3:16). We know that we are the redeemed (Ephesians 1:7) and hang by a thread of God's grace (Ephesians 2:8) from being separated from Him forever.We know the score (see what I did there) and we've read the last page. It ends well.

It's all about perspective. Yes, we have bad hair days and things can go wrong, sometimes very wrong. Loss, pain, grief, trauma, suffering are all part of life. Some things this side of eternity are very hard to cope with and recover from. But crying over a game of football? Leave it out!

Carl Beech is general director of CVM and is on the councils of the Evangelical Alliance, Restored, Fusion and the Proclaim Trust