A packed stadium and a watching world gasp as this young player nearly lost his life in front of us all. They could revive his heart by God’s grace, but he remains in critical condition. Players were drawn to tears, which caused us all to be moved emotionally as well. The NFL ended up postponing the game, and fans left the stadium quietly.
My son, Chandler, loves the NFL. He knows every team, their current stats, and nearly every player and their stats — yes, it seems like all 1,696 of them. He has watched more NFL football in his lifetime than I have in mine. As a result, we often use the NFL role models (and poor role models) as conversation starters. While I have to put limits on his obsession at times, I find that football has been a bonding experience for us and gives us plenty to talk about regarding character and life lessons (Deuteronomy 6:4).
When Hamlin was taken away by ambulance, and the NFL responded with a postponed game, it caused an opportunity for us to talk about God’s sovereignty, the role of belief in Christ as it refers to sports, and the necessity of a firm witness for Christ.
Benjamin Watson tweeted, “Both the Bills and Bengals have strong spiritual leadership among players and chaplain. Pray for them as they minister, encourage and comfort while enduring this moment themselves. Pray for supernatural strength and wisdom.”
When a watching world observes tragedy, Christ-followers must speak up.
The Apostles used everything from persecution to gladiator games to preach Christ. Lives threatened or lost are an affront to the image of God in man. God created the world to be in an unhindered relationship with Him, without pain and suffering. Yet, because sin entered the world, we witness the natural world and the sinful nature at play. Our hope is not in this world; it is in Christ!
1 Peter 3:15 says, “but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (CSB). As we give the reason for our hope, we point others to Christ. God can use any kind of tragedy, including a fallen NFL player, to point people to Himself. It requires that we speak up about this hope and not merely wallow in the sadness of suffering or the endless conversations and replays of the event.
I found myself on the couch with all of my kids around me this morning as we watched the news clips about Damar Hamlin. We talked about why God would allow such a thing to happen. Then we prayed for Damar and his mom. We also prayed for the thousands of people who watched this sad event, that they might hear the hope of Christ in light of this sad event.
May we not remember the bad but be quick to cling to what is good (Romans 12:9)— our eternal hope in Christ in a fleeting mortal world!