Tuesday evening I attended the Tiger game with one of my sons.  Matt Boyd pitched six strong innings and left the game with a comfortable 7-0 lead.  That is how things stayed until KC had two outs in the 8th inning.  At that point Jimenez gave up a three-run homer, and then another reliever in the 9th squandered the rest of the lead.  With the game tied 7-7 with two outs in the 9th and a runner on second, KC was a base hit away from taking the lead.

In the midst of this ecstasy turned agony we departed for home.  The hour had gotten late and we both had to be to work early Wednesday morning. Over the half-hour it took us to walk to our car and drive halfway home, a new Tigers’ reliever had retired KC without a lead change, and, in the bottom of the 9th, the Tigers had placed runners on first and second with two out.  Then the ecstasy returned as Grossman had a walk-off single to win the game for the home team.  This was the first time the Tigers had won consecutive games in a month – and only the third time this season.

Unfortunately, I know many individuals who over the past few months have had greater struggles than the Tigers.  Some have experienced the agony of depression, for others it has come in the form of loneliness, anger, frustration, delusion, grief, fear, or a combination of many of the above.  Along a similar vein, I am hearing that the violent crime rate has recently risen to levels that do not usually appear until the weather gets warmer.  I believe much of this is a result of “pandemic stress” that keeps growing as time goes on.

The agony of our present darkness certainly is a great and trying challenge.  For many it is so great that it is difficult to imagine any form of a walk-off win in the future, in spite of knowing we have had many joyous and fun blessings in the past.  Yet this is exactly what our Lord and Savior Jesus promises:  Blessings sprouting from this present agony and the ecstasy of a walk-off win at the end!

So I invite you to listen in as he speaks of the ecstasy that he promises.  “In (Jesus) is life, and the life is the light of men.  The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1.4-5) “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” (Isaiah 9.2) “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,” says Jesus. (John 8.12) “The Father has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints of light.  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1.12-14) “At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true).” (Ephesians 5.8-9)

I do not expect the Tigers to make the playoffs any time soon, let alone win the World Series, but their record this year is 1-1 in the games that I have attended – and each has included more than enough ecstasy for me to look forward to attending additional games in the future.  Also, the agony of their “rebuild” at this point is short-lived compared to their friends across the street at Ford Field!  And, though the agony of pandemic stress is much more debilitating than that of being a Detroit sports fan, our time in this agony can end much more quickly and simply.

We do not need a new owner, top draft pick, or General Manager to rescue us from this present darkness – our Heavenly Father, his Son, and the Holy Spirit are “more than adequate” in these roles.  All we need is a light for our path.  So, let me remind you, God’s Word “is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path.” (Psalm 119.105) And “In (Jesus – the Word) is life, and the life is the light of men.  The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1.4-5) Yes, our God will raise ecstasy out of your current agony soon – and very soon – even as he promises one incredible walk-off win at the end the “season” for each child of his kingdom … Yes, you can be confident as you carry on being Careful, Cautious, Courageous, and Creative … God’s dawning light will come.

Ecstasy and Agony