Faith & Football

Faith and football… by Melissa Rathmann

They each have the unequivocal power to bring people together. And when an unexpected event like the collapse of Buffalo Bills’ defensive back Damar Hamlin during last Monday night’s football game unfolded, prayer became the bridge between the two.

In the moments following Hamlin’s collapse, we witnessed his teammates and coaches take a knee to form a prayer circle on national television. We watched fans from both teams unite in the stands to recite the Lord’s Prayer. Later that evening, we saw prayer vigils form outside the hospital as Hamlin received lifesaving medical care. ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky paused during NFL Live to boldly and unapologetically pray for Hamlin. Then in the following days, we watched the donations in excess of 8 million dollars pour into Hamlin’s Go Fund Me, “The Chasing M’s Foundation Community Toy Drive.”

Regardless of race, religion, or fan base, the world came together in support of Damar Hamlin.

In John 17:22-23, Jesus prayed, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity.”

When a group of believers join in prayer, it brings the unity that Christ prayed for.
The Lord himself said: “Where two or three are gathered in my name I am in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

On Saturday morning, the Buffalo Bills tweeted that Hamlin “remains in critical condition” but is “making continued progress in his recovery.” His neurological functions remain intact and he is able to breathe on his own and speak.

A miracle can be defined as an “extraordinary and astonishing happening that is attributed to the presence and action of an ultimate or divine power.” Was this a medical miracle? I am not sure. But this tragedy has the characteristics of a modern day miracle in that this event united people at a time when the world’s faith not only in God but in humanity desperately needs to be restored. The Lord used a tragedy to remind us of His presence, and the world responded in prayer.

When Hamlin asked his doctors who won the Bills-Bengals game, they responded with “You’ve won. You’ve won the game of life.” And this is nothing short of miraculous…

“You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.”
~ Psalm 77:14

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