Every baseball player and baseball team is prone to slumps. A hitter has a string of hitless games—the dreaded “0-fers”—that last day after day, night after night. A pitcher suddenly loses control of the strike zone and can’t throw one over the plate to save his life. A team goes into an inexplicable downward spiral racking up loss after loss after loss.
"All slumps end,” says ESPN Senior Writer Tim Kurkjian, “but while they are going on, it is a helpless feeling for a hitter. A bad slump will keep you up at night… There are countless stories about what players will do to end a slump, countless times that a hitter will stand in front of a mirror at 3 a.m. swinging an imaginary bat, wondering what he is doing wrong, and wondering when he will get another hit, if ever. On the final day of the 1984 season, after going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in a perfect game thrown by the Angels’ Mike Witt, Rangers outfielder George Wright, who finished the season in a terrible slump that left his average at .243, was asked what he was going to do next. He said, ‘I’m going to change my name and move to Africa.’”
Slumps are not reserved only for baseball players, though. Everyone goes through slumps. The marital slump when spouses are just not on the same page mentally, emotionally, or intimately. The vocational slump when you lose the joy and excitement of the job, and you wake up in the morning dreading the day ahead of you. The spiritual slump when try as hard as you might you just can’t “feel” the presence of God anymore, or see the need for church or faith at all.
The Apostle Paul, I believe, knew a thing or two about being in a slump. I can only imagine what it must have been like for him in those months and years he spent in prison, or in those weeks when he was overcome by some outside force like shipwreck or persecution. I think it was his experiences being in a slump that produced the letter to the Philippians we’ve been studying all throughout this sermon series.
On Sunday, we’ll close out our Batter Up series by looking at the anatomy of a slump, what causes them, and what practical things we can do to break out of them. Pastor Jen and the rest of the Tanzania mission team will be back. And we’ll also be announcing the winners of our Cubs/White Sox ticket giveaways. You’re not going to want to miss out this week!
“I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor. I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13, CEB)