When it doesn’t come home

When it doesn’t come home

When it doesn’t come home

by Dave Carter
14th July 2021

I would have loved to write a different article after Sunday’s football final. It would have brought me great joy to celebrate the victory of an England team who have inspired millions and a manager who deserves to lift a trophy. I would love to have posted photos of celebrations with my friends and family who watched the match together, and to have strolled into work the next day singing “It’s coming home.

Sadly, it was not to be.

I say sadly, fully knowing that some people find the idea that anyone’s emotional well-being could be affected by sport rather confusing. Why should a game of football mean that I woke up on Monday morning feeling pretty gloomy?

But here’s the thing. To truly be able to celebrate something, for it to mean something when you win, you have to accept that you will feel disappointed when you lose. Most opportunities for great joy come with the chance of great sadness if you don’t get what you hoped for. Proposing to someone has the potential to be the happiest day of your life. It also could be one of the worst! Exam results day can go either way. Like it or not, football matters to people, and as such can make them ecstatic or downcast.

“It’s the hope that kills you” is a phrase often used with reference to the England football team. Often people wonder whether it would be better not to invest any hope or interest, so as to avoid disappointment. However, that’s no way to live, as to avoid all disappointment in life would be to never attempt anything.

There are some parallels in the Christian life. Too often there has been an argument used against stepping out in faith “to avoid disappointing people”. Don’t pray for healing, because when it doesn’t happen people feel let down. Don’t expect supernatural provision, because when hardship does come it can feel like defeat. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking can lead to people not hoping for things and not attempting anything.

Healing matters. Restored relationships matter. Miracles matter. We must never rob ourselves of the significance of these things because we’re scared of what might not happen. We choose to live by faith, in hope.

Sometimes we have to persevere. But one day, it will come home.

A few other thoughts

We can rightly be proud of this England team, who demonstrated passion, humility and unity. Had they won, the additional prize money would have gone to the NHS. All the more reason to feel devastated at the utterly inexcusable racist behavior from some of the public. Credit to the FA and players for condemning this outright. It’s such a tragedy that this has to be a part of the story following the tournament. I am heartened by the fact that this is now promptly recognized, and that the vast majority of fans are in complete support of the players, but this still shows we’ve got a long way to go.

Football is a team game, you win as a team, and lose as a team. We could learn a lot from the attitude of the players towards one another and the support for those who missed a penalty. “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.

On that note, it takes huge courage to step up and take a penalty. Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka – you can hold your heads up high.

Congratulations to Italy, who played a great tournament.

See you at the World Cup next year!