Prior to the 1950s, baseball was an almost exclusively American sport. It was often referred to as “the national pastime.” Following World War II, however, baseball became an export. American soldiers stationed in Japan and Korea introduced the sport there, enthusiasm for it spread into Latin America and parts of Europe, and today the game is played in many countries around the world.
The reason for bringing this subject into “Monday Manna” is one unique aspect to the sport, an obstacle that keeps many players from excelling: the “dreaded, late-breaking curveball.” Batters unable to master hitting this curveball either fail to reach the top professional level or, once they get there, soon disappear.
I never played much baseball, but a friend who did explains it this way: “It curves right about the time it gets to home plate. Most hitters’ eyes are focused on where they think they are going to hit the ball – and not on the ball itself.” As a result, instead of hitting the baseball where they intend, they fail to hit it at all.
Even if you have never played an inning of baseball, you have experienced this problem in other ways. Life, and the workplace, can throw us “curveballs” at times – instant, unexpected developments that turn our plans upside-down. An important customer may decide to take business elsewhere. An anticipated promotion might be awarded to someone else. A drastic economic shift could send sales plummeting, leaving your company scurrying to survive. Your boss might decide to make major changes to a project on which you have invested many hours and much energy for weeks.
Similar things can happen in our personal lives: You receive a phone call about a family crisis that has just emerged. An expensive appliance or your car breaks down, throwing your budget into turmoil. Someone close to you receives a serious health diagnosis.
The question becomes, “How will we handle this ‘curveball’?” When our first impulse is to panic – or to cower until the crisis hopefully subsides – how should we respond in a productive manner? The Bible offers numerous principles for handling the curveballs life throws at us. Here are just a few:
You might not be prepared, but Someone is. We cannot know what problems lurk around the next corner, or will confront us tomorrow, but God does. “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11).
You do not have to face the unexpected alone. God promises when we are faced with uncertainty or impending calamity, we need not respond in fear. He will walk through the situation with us. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
You may discover the sudden change of plans is a blessing rather than a curse. When well-conceived plans fail to work out as expected, we can respond in frustration, anger or despair. Often, however, modified plans or a total change in direction will prove to be exactly what we needed. “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. A veteran journalist, he has written Tufting Legacies (iUniverse); Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace (River City Press); and has coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring (NavPress). For more information, see www.leaderslegacy.com or his blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.comand www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com.
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- Have you ever played baseball at any level and experienced “the dreaded late-breaking curveball,” or encountered something similar in another sport? If so, describe what that was like for you.
2. What are some of the “curveballs” you have faced in everyday life, or in the workplace? Are you dealing with anything like that right now?
3. When such unexpected developments occur, what has been your typical way of responding to them?
4. Does it give you any comfort or reassurance to know God wants to be actively involved with you in handling sudden and unplanned changes or adverse circumstances? Why or why not?
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:
Proverbs 3:5-6, 16:3-4; Isaiah 26:3; Matthew 6:25-34, 28:20, 11:28-30; 1 John 4:18