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Lessons learned from Damar Hamlin

This past week we saw some tragic events unfold. As millions of people watched the matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills on Monday night football tragedy struck. Damar Hamlin of the Bills and Tee Higgins of the Bengals collided in what seemed to be a routine tackle, Hamlin stood up for a couple seconds and immediately collapsed on the field. No one expected what happened next. We would expect him to come to shortly after and give the thumbs up as he is carted of the field, however that was not the case. After excruciating minutes ticked by there was no movement on the field. CPR was administered twice on the field, and with my wife being a nurse, she assured me that watching CPR being administered can scar you for life. After ten or so minutes the ambulance showed up, and took Hamlin away, and everyone was left to wonder would he make it through or ever be himself again. Days ticked by with no real updates, only that Damar was in critical condition. As time has progressed the latest reports I have heard was that Damar was responsive and able to respond to teammates and family. We praise God for the good report there! With that being said what are some takeaways from this tragic event that we can learn from and apply to our own lives?

Life here is not promised: One of the first takeaway I think of during this time is how fragile and unpredictable life here on this earth is. James 4:14 tells us "whereas we do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." Do we truly live by this mindset. This tragic event caused us to really reflect on our own lives. Have we become so caught up in the events of this world that we fail to realize the privilege it is to live another day. This life can be taken from us in the blink of an eye. Let us live with James 4:14 at the forefront of our minds and truly recognize this life and the moments we have as a gift from God. Growing up one thing my Great Grandpa always said before he did almost anything was "Lord Willing" this or that. This phrase now being said by my dad has found its way into my own vocabulary. It truly is a sobering thought. When we travel or have things planned in life do we just assume they will happen? The right thing to do is realize the Lord is in control and if the Lord wills those things will happen. When we plan this life without regarding the Lord's plan we often are taken aback when things do not go the way we originally planned. But when we have the practice of living by the phrase Lord willing, it helps us to navigate when things do not go exactly as WE planned.

Tragedy can bring us together: At times of tragedy we often find that we are brought together. I think of the days following 9/11. I hardly remember any such event that seemed to lead us back to prayer and the mention of God. Yet the circumstance involving Damar Hamlin everyone was remarked as saying "Praying for Demar." Yet in other circumstances, prayer would be discouraged even outlawed in the public setting. This even went as far as an NFL live analyst, Dan Orlovsky prayed on national TV. What is it about these events that causes us to have what seems to be this change of heart? First we as humans feel vulnerable in times like this. We recognize these events are outside our control and we seek help to navigate these trying times. Second it seems we are called back to our roots. Most people intrinsically recognize there is a God, someone higher than ourselves. Whether or not they admit that is undetermined. But when tragedy strikes it seems we all run to God for help in our desperate situation. Tragedy can help to bring us together and recognize the good in people. But what about when everything is good? Why do we stop seeking God in the good moments and run to him in the bad? God does not desire us to treat him like a genie in a bottle that grants our wishes. Rather he is the Son of God that sent his son to die on the cross for our sins. I am reminded of Isaiah 55:6-7 which says "Seek the Lord while he may be found, Call upon him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon him." During this time let us seek God and his will while he is fresh on our minds. Let us take advantage of this opportunity we have during this hard time to make our own lives right with God.

Every breath is a second chance: I am going to be a little vulnerable here. My dad over ten years ago was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Fortunately he is still here with us today and is in remission. After winning his fight with cancer, he lived his life with the motto of "Every breath is a second chance." I hope and pray that Damar lives the same way. Every breath that we take is a second chance for us to make things right and live for Jesus and his cause. This world and the life we live is so much bigger than our own wants and needs. We live this life with eternity in mind, knowing that we are just sojourners or pilgrims here (Hebrews 11:13). When we truly deny ourselves and live for Jesus it will change our lives and the perspective that we have. I hope that we can all have this mindset. It is easy in the good ol days to forget these lessons that we learn when tragedy strikes.

I continue to pray for Damar and his family that he can heal from these bodily wounds and his life can be restored. While I hate the events that unfolded, and do not wish them on anyone here on this earth, tragedy is inevitable and can strike at any time. When tragedy does strike what are some lessons that we can learn? I hope that these words are encouraging and I hope that through these events someones life is forever changed by the blood of Jesus. I pray for Damar and his family as they heal from these events and I pray that we all view each breath we take as a second chance to make our lives right with Jesus.

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