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Op-Ed: Damar Hamlin’s Terrifying Injury Raises Life’s Most Important Question

There is a proverb that says, “Boast not about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). During the “Monday Night Football” game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills on Jan. 2, millions of viewers watched in dismay and horror as one of the players collapsed on the field and was unresponsive after making a routine tackle. Damar Hamlin, a 24-year-old safety for the Bills, suffered a cardiac arrest and was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. He was later revived and has recovered sufficiently to return home to Buffalo. It is uncertain whether he will be able to play football again. A day later, Benjamin Watson, former NFL tight end and Super Bowl champion, discussed this event that jarred football fans and many others around the country in an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN. Watson shared his conversation with Cooper on Twitter using the caption, “Life can change in the blink of an eye. Damar’s injury has made us all wrestle with this truth. It has served as a reminder of our own mortality. While we pray for him as he fights for his life, we must ask ourselves where we will spend eternity?” During the interview, Cooper commented that Hamlin’s injury was a reminder of the frailty of human life. Watson agreed, saying that these occasions dispel feelings of invincibility, bring us face-to-face with our own mortality, and remind us that we all “have an appointment with death.” This is reminiscent of what was said by James in the Bible: “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). Watson, cognizant of the tremendous opportunity before him, in his concluding remarks pointed the viewers listening to him on CNN to the One who has the answer to the question, “Where will you spend eternity?” “Where are we? Where do our hearts stand? If that were to be us laying on the field or if that were to be us laying in the hospital, what would our next steps be? … The questions about what happens after this life — ‘Where will you spend eternity?’ — as you mentioned, Anderson, are coming up for all of us, not just for the football players. But thank God that he provides an answer through his Son Jesus Christ.” John Harper was a Scottish Baptist pastor traveling to the United States on the doomed RMS Titanic to preach at the Moody Church in Chicago. Harper, a widower, was accompanied by his sister and 6-year-old daughter. When the ship hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean, Harper made sure his daughter and sister were put on a lifeboat. They were eventually rescued and returned home to Scotland. He remained on the ship as it started sinking, quickly moving across the deck urging people to believe in the Lord Jesus and be saved. As the ship lurched into its death throes, he jumped into the icy water. According to survivors, Harper held on to a floating piece of debris and moved from person to person, calling on whoever would listen to turn to Christ, even giving his life jacket to another person who needed it, until he succumbed to the freezing water and sank into the depths. Neither Harper nor anyone else on the ship knew before boarding of the events that would follow a few days later. Yet when the disaster took place, he seized the opportunity before him and sought to turn people to faith in Jesus Christ before they died and entered eternity. “Normalcy bias” describes the tendency for people to believe that things will always go on as they have before, and to therefore underestimate the likelihood of great changes or calamities. The Apostle Peter talked about this attitude in 2 Peter 3:3-9, describing those who held it as failing to understand the divine judgments of the past, such as the Great Flood, and those to come on the present heavens and earth. But the patience of God is demonstrated in his delay of judgment in order for sinners to come to repentance and believe in Jesus. Like the more than 1,500 souls who perished on the Titanic, we are all on a sinking ship taking us to the grave. Like Damar Hamlin, we are all one heartbeat away from eternity. None of us can guarantee our next breath, never mind whether we will make it to the end of the day. We should keep in mind the frailties of life and consider what we do in the light of eternity. Where you spend eternity is answered by whether you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:16). Today, if you hear God’s voice, do not harden your heart (Hebrews 3:15, 4:6-7). If you are reconciled to God through Jesus, take every opportunity to share the gospel with those around you while there is still time. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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