“I never question why things happen the way they do.”
That’s what Texas quarterback Colt McCoy said recently after an injury sidelined him in the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) National Championship game during the first quarter of play.
If you follow football at the University of Texas, no doubt you’ve heard Colt McCoy “give God the glory” week after week, year after year. He walks from fist-pumping and back-slapping with his teammates after each game (he is the winningest quarterback in major college football history), meets the ESPN reporter at the sidelines and opens with, “I just give God the glory.”
He has done it every time. For four years.
He stuck to the script, mostly, after he watched his beloved Longhorns fizzle out on his college career-ending field of dreams. He stood bravely facing the national TV audience, his throwing arm hanging limply at his side and said, “I always give God the glory. I never question why things happen the way they do.”
Oh my, Colt McCoy has a lot of life yet to see.
I can appreciate Colt’s determination to be faithful in all circumstances. I can honor a young person who lives all of life, including the part that involves throwing a ball, in awe of the Creator who put all of life in motion. I can even abide a naive worldview that imagines a God who cares about which team wins a college football game.
But the comment “I never question why things happen the way they do” erased believability from the strength of Colt McCoy’s glories to God for me. I couldn’t suppress a cynical laugh and a bitter comment.
“Really, Colt? Really?” That’s what I said to the TV.
Perhaps when the “things” that happen in life begin to ooze outside the confines of 100 yards of well-kept grass, Colt McCoy will have a question or two. Maybe when he has time to look up from impressive personal stats and game-day clipboards, he’ll find the millions of questions the rest of us are taking to our moments with God each day.
Why do the world’s children die hungry while America dies fat?
Why is killing innocent people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam or Hiroshima not murder?
Why do healthy, creative young people suffer with illness or succumb to tragedy way before their time should end?
Why are people hated because of the color of their skin, the choice of their mate or the preference of their religion?
Even the most faithful saints of all time have wondered, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
Maybe Colt McCoy will discover, as I have, that trust in God is strengthened in those moments of deep longing for answers to life’s painful questions. I find no greater affirmation of my belief in God than I do when I meet a grieving Creator who does not stand at the control panel dishing out tragedy to test the strength of my resolve to believe, but stands with open arms and a broken heart to say, “I’m sorry it hurts so much. There is confusion and disappointment and evil in the world. I am here to hold you.”
So what’s a God-fearing, heart-broken, high-profile, NFL-bound quarterback to do when the nation turns its eyes and ears to him for a comment at the end of such a night?
Well, I was grateful he didn’t cry. And I was struck by his poise and the absence of bitterness in his voice. But I do wish he’d left God out of the conversation for once. Talk about the team, the helplessness of the situation, the injury. Sum up the interview with a smile and a wave and a “God is still God” if you must.
That’s honest and believable.
Colt McCoy: “I never question why things happen the way they do.”
Teresa of Avila: “The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.”
God is on the journey, too. Sometimes it’s just a puzzlingly bad trip.
Jan Chapman is a former broadcast journalist, a storyteller and a blogger. She is a member of Church of the Savior, a UCC congregation with Baptist roots in Austin, Texas. She blogs at Thinking in Peaces.