World Champion Chicago Cubs. Those who know me know how satisfying those words are to me. (They should also have figured that an article would be forthcoming with those words.) I have been a baseball fan most of my life, and a Chicago Cubs fan for much of that time. How does a kid from a small town in New Mexico become a Cubs fan? My dad was raised in Los Angeles.
That takes some explanation. At the time my dad was growing up, there were no west coast major league teams. The Dodgers and Giants had not moved yet. So he was a fan of the local minor league team, which was a farm team for the Cubs. The Cubs also did their spring training on Catalina Island because the island and the team were owned by Wrigley. So when a favorite minor league player went to the bigs, he went to the Cubs, and so did my dad’s loyalty. It was that loyalty I inherited (along with a stadium seat certified to have come from Wrigley Field).
The Chicago Cubs went 108 years without winning a World Series, and had not even played a game in that series during my lifetime. One psychiatrist had even written an article in Psychology Today claiming that Chicago Cubs fans were so because they had masochistic tendencies. They became called the lovable losers, and the loser tag even carried over to us fans.
So how does all this fit in an article for a Bible-based paper? Cubs fans are quite familiar with some biblical principles: persecution, patience, persistence.
Cubs fans are known for their persecution complex. Goat curses, black cats, a guy named Bartman, Leon Durham letting an easy catch go through his legs. All of these, and more, conspired against us. Losers. Maybe we haven’t been persecuted on the scale of the Jews or Christians, but it was there. We could take some comfort in Matthew 5:11. “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” We Cubs fans understand persecution, so when persecution comes for the sake of Christ, we have a foot up on most others. We know how to take it. It is a good thing we do, because persecution is assumed for Christians. If Christians are not being persecuted, maybe they aren’t doing their jobs properly.
It takes patience to say, year after long year, “Wait till next year.” One hundred eight years is a long time. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into various trials; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience.” (Jas 1:2-3) That same writer later seems to say that the ultimate good requires patience.
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. (Jas 5:7)
Chicago Cubs fans know too well the meaning of patience. But all those years of waiting made the victory that much sweeter.
It is easy to be a fair-weather fan. Your favorite player moves to a different team, your loyalty follows him, even if he has only a year or two left to play. You tire of supporting a perennially losing team, so you jump on somebody else’s bandwagon, until they become a losing team. It is harder to be a fan of the Cubs. But we know deep down the value of persistence, even if it is not immediately apparent. Jesus taught about persistence. He told a parable of a judge who eventually gave in to a woman who kept pleading her case before him.
And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. (Lk 18:6-8)
Persecution, patience, persistence. In my case it has been about sixty years. But that just makes it sweeter to say, “The World Champion Chicago Cubs.” How much sweeter it will be to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”