Like millions of Americans, I like to watch football. On January 2nd, I decided to watch the Monday night football game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals. These two combatants had the potential to be in the championship game of the NFL, and I tuned in to watch these modern-day gladiators. It was as if I had assumed my seat in a Roman Colosseum, ready to see these gladiators inflict hurt and pain on each other by way of hits, blocks and tackles. I had my thumbs ready to put up or down on the performance of the two combatants as was one of the ways the winner of a Roman gladiator fight was determined. Let the games, begin! Within minutes of the game, I, along with millions of Americans, was awestruck as we witnessed the aftermath of what seemed a typical defensive tackle.
On with the Show!
In America’s most popular sport of football, which has been said to bring us together as a people, on this Monday night of January 2, 2023, this statement would be challenged.
The interlude: 70 minutes
What all of America witnessed in that game, had never been seen before. A tackle initiated by Buffalo Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin caused him to immediately suffer cardiac arrest after the hit. Right before our eyes he died twice and had to be resuscitated twice – a 24-year-old, who began a great football career with everything before him, a loving family, strong connection to his community and great friends. For 70 minutes, Damar fought for his life while the “SHIELD” (NFL) was fighting for its life.
As Damar was transferred to the hospital, the “SHIELD” was faced with a public relations nightmare unlike any other: Do we continue the game after a moment of cool down or not? Since millions of Americans witnessed this incident, mothers and fathers of children who played the sport may have questions. The various football programs could potentially be affected. Not to mention the revenue streams connected to the game of football. This was bigger than just a hit. There seemed to be no answer for the 70 minutes. Nothing. No glass case to break in case of an emergency, no “Clark Kent” (Superman) to call, and no rule in the “rulebook” to follow. What we witnessed was a seismic shift! What these modern-day gladiators, those in the stands, as well as we who watched, resorted to was prayer. These gladiators knelt in their combat uniforms and began to pray. Believers and non-believers were reaching out for a power that they believed could heal this young man. The “SHIELD” had no choice but to cancel the game. The show would not go on. In that moment, the need for a miracle drove everyone to pray. The football game was secondary.
There is much to learn from the pre and post observation of what happened to Damar. Here are some takeaways:
- Prayer changes things.
- We still serve a sovereign GOD.
- God has the last words in everything we do.
- There is power in agreement (Matthew 18:19 was manifested).
- There is nothing too hard for God to do (Matthew 19:26).
Getting back to the show
The game of football resumed being played every weekend since that Monday, and Damar has been the “face” of the SHIELD (NFL). A public relations nightmare was averted. Additionally, over 8 million dollars was contributed to the “Go Fund Me” account that Damar had established to assist in giving back to the community. He is home now, out of the hospital, recovering and could possibly resume his career.
It was reported that the first question Damar asked the doctors was: “Did we win?” Their answer was “Yes, you won the game of life.” The doctors said the quick response of the Bills training staff and other medical personnel saved his life. As a result during the next game, a game ball was given to the team trainer. Nonetheless, let’s pump the brakes a little and recognize that THE GLORY BELONGS TO GOD.
Your name might not be Damar, your situation might last longer than 70 minutes, in fact you might still be in a foggy situation. It is good to know what God has done for Damar, HE can do for you. This young man and his family will need constant prayer and God’s healing hands to strengthen him, even stronger than he was before. No one may be able to understand what he has gone through or will go through. Only God knows. Many of those who contributed to his “Go fund Me” collection will forget about him.
The show carries on
Let me give you a quick example. As I sat and watch the NCAA Football National Champion game a few days later, I witnessed many hits identical to what Damar delivered and nothing happened. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us, the next day, the next hour, the next down, or our next breath. Often, we go back to what we used to do before our emergency. God often gives grace and mercy to our situation. The truth is it was not Damar’s time. No man knows when his time is up. Although God has made everything perfect in its own time, we need to learn from this incident.
As I write this article, I see an urgency to store this almost tragic event in our national memory. You see, no one knows when the next emergency might happen, or if it will come to your address. In the meantime, I urge you to do these things:
- Stay prepared by developing your own prayer life.
- Put this in that glass container you might have to break in case of an emergency: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).
Newton Fairweather is the pastor of Faith and Joy Church and the CBMC Fort Lauderdale Board Chaplin.
Read last month’s article by Newton Fairchild at: https://www.goodnewsfl.org/the-power-of-self-control-for-2023/