Comer: Faith is hard, so more grace and less judgment
Megan Rapinoe sure does have a proclivity for making headlines.
Over the last several years, the former professional women’s soccer player has been in headlines seemingly more for her progressive activism than for her contributions on the pitch, much to the chagrin of many conservatives, and last week, she made some comments that put the spotlight directly on her once again.
Following her final professional game last Saturday, the National Women’s Soccer League Championship, Rapinoe focused her frustration on God himself after she suffered a torn Achilles tendon that forced her to leave the match in the first five minutes.
“I’m not a religious person or anything, and if there was a God, like, this is proof that there isn’t,” she said in a press conference.
The wave of condemnation was swift and sharp.
“Narcissism at its finest,” wrote Sage Steele, a prominent former ESPN personality.
“Good riddance, Megan Rapinoe — you smug, pink-haired prima donna,” was the scathing headline of a Piers Morgan article in the New York Post.
“Arrogant” was the word used to describe the comments in a headline by OutKick.
I wholeheartedly disagree with Rapinoe’s conclusion, but I feel compelled to ask a couple of questions of those spreading this vitriol against her:
1) Is it at all helpful?
2) Are you going to convince Rapinoe, or anyone else for that matter, that God does in fact exist through such attacks?
I think we all know the answer to those questions, and I think we all know that none of those making these attacks really care about being helpful or changing her mind. All this is about is seizing an opportunity to fire off an insult against someone these people already don’t like.
Here’s where my mind went when I heard about Rapinoe’s comments, however. Rapinoe in that press conference wasn’t too different from most people — even the most ardent believers. How many people can honestly say they haven’t ever doubted the existence of God when something terrible happens to them? She simply said out loud what a lot of people — even believers — have said quietly to themselves. One of the hardest things to do is to maintain a belief in God, especially when something unexpectedly disappointing or tragic happens.
Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who can say you’ve never doubted the existence of God, even in terrible circumstances. If so, I’m happy for you. But do you go as far as the apostle Paul did and glory in your infirmities? Are you grateful for your trials? Can you honestly say you’ve never let yourself become discouraged or felt hopeless, even for a moment, when something terrible happens? I think we all have work to do when it comes to our level of faith.
Rapinoe said she wasn’t religious, so what would you expect her to say when she suffers the type of devastating injury that she did? Of course she’s going to say it’s proof that God doesn’t exist. If even religious people struggle with faith in difficult moments, how could you expect someone who is self-described as not religious to not doubt?
But what I keep coming back to are the questions I asked above. Are you being helpful by attacking her? Are you convincing her or anyone else that God does exist through your attacks? Clearly, that isn’t the goal, but it should be.
Here’s what I would say to Rapinoe, in the infinitesimally small chance that she reads this. Maybe it will be helpful to someone else who reads this but thinks like her. Think of all your blessings. If suffering a horrible injury is proof that God doesn’t exist, aren’t all those blessings proof that God does exist? Why does God get the blame for things going wrong but not the credit for things going right? Perhaps you would say that your talent and work ethic are the reasons for your success and not God. But who gave you that talent and work ethic? Obviously, they are not given to everyone. They are gifts from a God who loves you and wants you to be happy and successful.
Yes, terrible things happen, and they sometimes come at what we consider the worst possible moments. But that is simply the result of us being on an imperfect planet with imperfect bodies surrounded by imperfect people. There is no shortage of imperfection in the world, and sometimes those imperfections result in circumstances we would rather not have to deal with. But we deal with those circumstances because they are opportunities for us to grow, and a perfect God knows that.
It’s hard to think about blessings in the face of tragedy. I understand this as well as anyone. I’ve had to try even harder to think of my own blessings these last few weeks as I’ve struggled with a medical issue that has made simply functioning on a daily basis a challenge. But tragedy doesn’t remove blessings. The fact that tragedies occur doesn’t mean that blessings haven’t also been given in abundance. Those blessings may be harder to think about in certain moments, but they are still there. We can’t deny that they exist, and we shouldn’t deny who the source of those blessings are.
Being able to look at how you are blessed even in the midst of tragedy is the definition of faith to me. That’s hard, but ultimately, it comes down to whether you want to have faith. If there’s no desire, for whatever reason, it’s hard to imagine faith coming.
But I can say faith is worth it. I think a lot about blessings that will come, maybe not in this life but certainly in the next, if I maintain my faith. Putting things in an eternal perspective and thinking of eternal blessings provides the peace and comfort I need in this life as trials come my way.
Who doesn’t need that kind of peace and comfort? Maybe commentary like this wouldn’t have to be written if we had more of it.
Contact Ryan Comer at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @rbcomer8388 and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/