Good for the New Orleans Saints. They finally won their first game of the season, leaving the Rams and the Dolphins as the only winless teams in the NFL. Unfortunately, with a dismal 1-4 record, and with the Bucs and Panthers dominating the NFC South, the Saints need nothing short of a miracle simply to make the playoffs.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. After a Cinderella season last year which saw a revitalized Saints team go 10-6 and reach the NFC championship game, the Saints were a trendy pick to reach the Super Bowl. Advertisers jumped onto the bandwagon, featuring Reggie Bush, Drew Brees, and the Saints on their commercials. Yet all the hype failed to translate onto the field. After a 41-10 thrashing by my beloved Indianapolis Colts, the Saints continued to slump, losing to Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Tennessee before finally recording a win against Seattle. The Saints lost their power running back in Deuce McAlister, while Bush has been disappointing and Brees, a minor deity here in Purdue country, has been poorly protected by his offensive line and has thrown more interceptions than any other quarterback in the league.

I remember reading several sports articles and seeing a TV segment last year which focused on the hope the Saints were bringing to the city of New Orleans. The team was supposed to inspire and encourage the city, helping it recover from the damage due to Hurricane Katrina. It was a heartwarming story, but in the back of my mind, I was always a little troubled. Wasn’t it dangerous for the people of the city to set their hopes on a football team? Shouldn’t they be turning to the Lord God instead for hope in the midst of trouble?

Sure enough, the New Orleans Saints appear to have failed their city. Perhaps they will be able to dig themselves out of their slump. But it’s clear that this inspiring story of human achievement was never going to last. Our hope cannot be placed in football teams, nor in any people or merely human abilities. They will always fail and disappoint. Rather, our hope must be set on the living God, who alone can strengthen us and provide for us an eternal home and kingdom.

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

—Psalm 20:7