United through prayer
By A. Ray Lee
The stadium was filled with avid partisan fans giving vocal support to the players on the field. It was nearing the end of the season and the outcome of the game would influence the final ranking of the teams. Excitement had grown during the pregame warm-ups. By the opening kickoff, the stadium was rocking from the power of eighty thousand voices reverberating through the stands.
From the first play of the game, highly motivated athletes were giving their all in a hotly contested battle. Soon the focus of action drastically changed when the officials called time out to deal with an injured player who had collapsed after being involved in a tackle. At first, the injury did not appear to be any more serious than a twisted knee or a pulled hamstring.
After a cursory view, the cameras panned away from the field to the broadcast booth expecting the play-by-play commentators to provide context for the break in the action. Ignoring what was transpiring on the playing field they began to provide their analysis of the progress of the game. For the moment they and those in the stands did not seem to be overly concerned. But when the injured player was delayed in being assisted to the sideline in a timely fashion so the game could continue, an eerie silence replaced the buzz of impatience that had been building.
Millions watching from the stadium and on national TV soon sensed something extraordinary was occurring. As the minutes passed our dread and fear grew in intensity. As a drama unfolded on the field we waited with anxiety to know what was happening. When the seriousness of the moment became evident, players, trainers, and coaches of both teams streamed onto the field and kneeled together in a circle of prayerful support around the injured player. All differences were put aside as players and millions of fans joined together in prayer. It seems they understood football is just a game and the score would soon be forgotten, but one of their comrades had entered an ethereal region and was now in a deathly struggle between life and death.
We would learn hours later the player had suffered a cardiac arrest and because of the prompt actions of trained medical personnel he now had a chance of survival and recovery. We are grateful they were there and are thankful for their expertise. Yet we do not discount the power of the fervent prayers of millions who were unified in lifting up Damar Hamlin before God in the hour of his great need. We were united through prayer on his behalf and rejoice that he has recovered from his trauma and gets stronger day by day.
The apostle James, among others, tells us of the unleashed power in prayer. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16).