Josh Hamilton threw a baseball to a fan last week. Then he heard the screams of the fan’s 6-year-old son. The fan who caught it fell 20 feet and died of his injuries, right in front of his son.
Why do bad things happen like this?
And why would it happen to involve someone like Josh Hamilton?
The answer is that there is evil in this world. The devil is prowling around trying to thwart all things good and all things God.
Last week the devil set his sights on Josh Hamilton – a committed and vocal follower of Jesus Christ. This was not the first time the devil had done this.
In 1999, after an impressive high school baseball career, Josh was given $4 million to play professional baseball. Soon after he had a car crash, was given prescription pain killers, became addicted and moved on to alcohol and cocaine.
It took nearly 10 years for Josh to climb back to a shadow of what he once was as a baseball player. But it wasn’t the time that changed him so much as it was Christ changing his life.
Josh Hamilton changed his focus on living for Christ, giving glory to God, and sharing the Good News about Jesus. He realized that he had been given a tremendous ability to hit and catch a baseball. So Josh returned to the game with his new focus.
He is now considered one of the best players in the game, an All Star.
The devil must be really threatened by Josh. And when the accident occurred last week – and that’s all it was, an accident – the devil must have been whispering non-stop in Josh’s ears.
Josh was faced with a choice. He could take all the blame, walk away from the game, and return to numbing his pain with drugs and alcohol.
Or he could once again put his faith and trust in Christ.
Josh chose the latter.
And that’s important. Because it really is a daily choice for Christians. It isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing, to be a follower of Christ. As one person put it, “by daily contrition and repentance, [our sinful nature is to] be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.” (Martin Luther, The Small Catechism)
The bad things in this life are not God’s fault. But God does allow them in order that our faith may be strengthened when we rely on Him and His love and power – as Josh Hamilton is doing right now.
Bad things happen because there is a devil in this world, because there is sin in this world, and they are at war with God.
We are in the middle of this war, especially if we are on God’s side. The bad things will happen. It is what we choose to do when they happen that will make a difference in our lives.