Update: I am very happy to report that doctors for the Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin said Thursday that he had regained consciousness and made remarkable improvement. While still critically ill, his lungs continue to heal and he is expected to make “full neurologic recovery.” The doctor said one of the first things Hamlin asked was if they won the game. He said he replied, "The answer is yes, Damar, you won the game of life."
To answer Hamlin’s question, in an unprecedented decision, the NFL announced that the Bills-Bengals game that was postponed due to his medical emergency will not be rescheduled. They say it didn’t have any bearing on the playoffs, and resuming it would require postponing the playoffs, affecting all the other teams.
May I also point out something that isn’t getting the attention it deserves? That is the fact that when Hamlin collapsed, the immediate reaction of the other players and coaches was to fall to their knees and pray to God for him to live. I believe their prayers, and those of millions of others, were answered.
Think of how many times in recent years that we’ve heard of coaches being fired or lawsuits filed just because someone prayed for the safety of the players on the field. This time, there were remarkably few snarky attacks on people of faith from the Twitter trolls. I don’t know if that’s because I tend to avoid the online sewers where they congregate, or just that they were afraid of the backlash in this case. But I like to think it’s because of the old truism about the fake bravado of cocky atheists, that “there are no atheists in fox holes.”
It’s easier to mock the idea of God or prayer, and mistake yourself for the center of the universe, when everything is going well. But when real danger or tragedy suddenly appears, and we desperately need help, a voice inside us all reminds us of just how small and powerless we really are and that there is a force much bigger that cares for us and listens to our prayers if we will only allow Him into our hearts. Some people have a hard time humbling themselves enough to get down on their knees, until they realize they’re facing something that’s beyond their control.
I have no qualms at all about saying prayers and asking them for others who need help. I never let the sneering and mockery of unbelievers affect me in the least. This terrible incident with Damar Hamlin reminds us all that our first inclination when we need help is to turn to God in prayer and that God answers those prayers. But also, to paraphrase a football motto, that when the going gets tough, the tough get on their knees and pray.
Related: I hope you will also remember in your prayers former University of Arkansas and NFL running back Peyton Hillis. He’s reportedly in critical condition after rescuing his children from drowning in the ocean.
His uncle said Hillis is improving, but he’s still having problems with his kidneys and lungs, and he asks for our thoughts and prayers.