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Is it Appropriate to Blame God for a Missed Catch?

Yesterday I posted a video clip of Buffalo Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson dropping what would have been the game winning touchdown pass in a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

What I didn’t discuss, however, was the remorse that Johnson showed at the post game press conference. Most of us would have hidden in shame following an embarrassing mishap such as that which Johnson endured. But he wasn’t afraid. He walked up to the podium to face the scrutiny of the media and shared his feelings with them: ”I had the game in my hands and I dropped it,” Johnson said. ”Humbled. Humbled.” Johnson added: ”I’ll never get over it. Ever.”

What an impressive display of courage and bravery from a young man willing to deal publicly with such an unfortunate ordeal; and he handled it with class and dignity.

Later in the day, Johnson offered these thoughts on the Twittersphere. He Tweeted to God,
“I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…”

Many media outlets and journalists were highly critical of Johnson for blaming God for his missed catch. They mocked Johnson for believing that God really cared about his football game when there are so many more serious and important events going on in the world. “Football is the last thing on God’s list to worry about,” they claimed.

These criticisms targeted at Johnson were misguided. Johnson’s tweet was nothing more than a classic example of someone experiencing grief and loss in its acute stage. While his emotions were raw and his feelings of failure were fresh, Johnson cried out to God and asked, “Why? Why did you do that to me?” Johnson, like many, (myself included) believes that God is invested in every part of his life, and therefore he cried out to God as someone who felt that he was shortchanged.

Was Johnson allowed to be angry at God? Sure. Job was angry at God for the way in which he was stricken with terrible tragedy after tragedy. He called out to God in anger and questioned His decisions. Surprisingly, God did not get angry at Job. In fact, he ultimately restored Job’s wealth and humanity twofold. The only people God became angry with were Job’s friends who were incapable of giving him sound advice!

It is not a crime, nor is it inappropriate, to be angry with God. In fact, at the moment of greatest hurt it is quite normal and healthy to express anger and resentment towards God. What is wrong, though, is to stop believing in God. Job never stopped believing in Him; he remained true and committed to his Creator throughout the ups and downs of his life. Johnson too, didn’t give up on God. Indeed, he finished his initial tweet to God with the words, “Thanks though,” which indicates that he recognized that God was in charge, and yet, wasn’t resigning from his faith.

Based on Johnson’s subsequent tweets and his status update on facebook, his theology matches my understanding:
“I learned A lot Within 24hrs. Saw Both Sides.(Ups&Dwns) I AM HAPPY & THANKFUL 4 YESTERDAY! w/out Sunday iWldnt have grew closer w/The Lord!!”

“And No I Did Not Blame God People! Seriously??!? CMon! I Simply Cried Out And Asked Why? Jus Like yal did wen sumthin went wrong n ur life!”

“So Before Yall..well I’m pretty sure you’ve awready judged me. I hope you guys look n the mirror. I dnt blame u 4 being mad @ my gm I WAS 2!”

And the note on Facebook
“FB fam … please dont take my twitter comment out of context. I know as well as anyone the gifts & opportunities God has provided me & my family. I am humbled by the lessons he has taught me these past two days & will continue to praise God, be strong in my faith, & thank him for all that he has & will continue to provide me & my family.”

From a religious perspective, Steve Johnson was simply expressing the same sentiments as Job. Blaming God for causing him to miss a catch is a perfectly acceptable complaint for those who believe that God is involved with every aspect of their lives. People who claim that God has more important things to worry about than making sure that Steve Johnson catches a football are entitled to their opinion. I believe that God has a vested interest in each and every one of us and is constantly and closely monitoring all the inhabitants of the world at one time.

For Johnson, this was a significant and traumatic event which could affect his psyche and confidence for the rest of his life. God worries about everyone and everything, even the small and immaterial concerns.

I applaud Johnson for staying true to himself and for staying true to his religion and his beliefs. Continue to keep the faith, Steve, and you’ll be rewarded twofold!

{Thanks Ariel Z.}

Posted in Football.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. Sports & Religion- Why God Cares About the Super Bowl linked to this post on January 28, 2013

    [...] “man cannot change what God has already blessed and destined.” A few years back, I wrote an article defending Buffalo Bills wide receiver, Steve Johnson, who similarly blamed God for causing him to [...]



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