A few weeks ago, NFL fans watched with horror as Damar Hamlin collapsed on the football field after tackling Cincinnati Bengals’ receiver Tee Higgins. Thankfully, due to the quick action of medical professionals, CPR was administered and a defibrillator used to resuscitate him before he was rushed to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

Word spread swiftly through the news and social media and Americans held their collective breath until Hamlin regained consciousness days later. After being transferred to Buffalo General Medical Center, he was miraculously released nine days after his close brush with death.

One of the most astonishing phenomena that occurred following Hamlin’s injury was the flurry of prayers that were offered up to God for his healing and recovery.

When his teammates, coaches, and even opponents realized the seriousness of Hamlin’s injuries they organized an impromptu prayer meeting right there on the field in Cincinnati. In front of television cameras and tens of thousands of fans in the stands, they knelt and bowed before God to plead for the life of their friend.

Twitter and Facebook exploded with pleas for prayer for the Buffalo Bills defensive safety whose life hung in the balance. In one of the most incredible displays of public faith witnessed in recent times, ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback, Dan Orlovsky, put his career and his reputation on the line and openly bowed and prayed on live television.

Surprisingly, no one protested the public prayer meeting nor tried to shut it down. Additionally, no one that I’ve yet heard of has called for Orlovsky’s termination or the banning of social media accounts that openly called for prayer. 

It has been encouraging to see that many Americans still know where to turn when someone they care about is hurting. Although we appreciate and support the work of medical professionals, deep down we all know that their capabilities are limited and true healing only comes from above.

Sadly, many Americans resist God until they need Him. We don’t want there to even be a god that might tell us how to behave and dampen our pursuits of happiness, until our loved ones lay sick or dying, until our cancer diagnosis is confirmed, or until there is some national crisis.

A few months ago, someone reminded me that the U.S. Constitution calls for separation of church and state. It was my privilege to inform her of this common mistake and that instead, our founding document actually guarantees the free exercise of religion to all citizens and that the separation clause was pulled from one of Jefferson’s letters, not the Constitution.

Ironically, some public figures and politicians who should know better have made similar statements and have actually discouraged others from publicly acknowledging God in any way. Thankfully, those voices were silent as people prayed for Hamlin, perhaps biding their time for when prayer is less obviously needed.

 We praise God that Damar Hamlin is recovering quickly and that his prognosis is good. God heard and answered our prayers as He always does. He may not always answer in the way we prefer, but faith means that we trust Him to do what He knows is best. He is not a cosmic genie to do our bidding and then be cast aside until our next wish. He is the Supreme God of the universe who will one day be our Judge.

I hope that America will continue to pray and seek God at all times, not just in crises, and that we will use whatever health He provides to obey Him and not to continue in sin.

As we ponder Damar’s recovery, let’s praise God for His healing and may the prayers of those teams on the field, of Orlovsky on TV, and of many others wherever they were, inspire us to publicly acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ and to speak boldly for Him.

Blessings, George

George Bowers is the Senior Pastor of Antioch Church and has authored 19 books including Blessings Volume 3, which is a collection of these articles. It is available at Four Star Printing and Shenandoah Stuff. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at gabowers@shentel.net.

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