Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, 24, suffered cardiac arrest and collapsed Monday night after making a tackle during a nationally televised football game against the Bengals in Cincinnati. His stunned team members immediately dropped to their knees, some weeping, and cried out in prayer. According to news outlets, Hamlin is no longer sedated on a ventilator at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, and has been able to communicate with medical personnel and family members.
“The Buffalo Bills know who to call out to for help!” Franklin Graham posted on Facebook. “The entire team dropped to their knees in a circle of prayer after Damar Hamlin was taken away via ambulance. They knew that Damar needed help that only God can give. Today, millions of people continue to pray for this young man, and I am one of them.”
Wednesday, Franklin Graham commented on another expression of prayer: “This warms my heart! Dan Orlovsky, ESPN analyst and former football player, cared enough for Damar Hamlin to pray for him right there on national television. He wasn’t afraid to say ‘I believe in prayer!’ I do too Dan—thanks for setting an example for others to follow. The Bible tells us to ‘pray without ceasing’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17).”
This warms my heart! Dan Orlovsky, ESPN analyst and former football player, cared enough for Damar Hamlin to pray for him right there on national television. He wasn’t afraid to say “I believe in prayer!” I do too Dan—thanks for setting an example for others to follow. The Bible tells us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Posted by Franklin Graham on Wednesday, January 4, 2023
Russ Barksdale, former pastor of Rush Creek Church in Arlington, Texas, posted the following to Facebook Tuesday:
“I’ve been playing and watching football for 60+ years. I’ve never seen what I saw tonight. Damar Hamlin, safety for the Buffalo Bills, made a tackle—and may not live. I don’t know Damar personally. Actually never heard of him. But I found myself glued to the TV praying for him that somehow God would intervene and save his life. As of this writing (9:55 p.m. CST), he is in critical condition in a Cincinnati hospital.
“What was demonstrably visible after his injury were the reactions of players, coaches, announcers, and fans. While the EMTs and other health professionals worked feverishly on him, at times ‘vigorously administering’ CPR, players and coaches on both sides reacted in various ways: shock, tears, disbelief, and silence. The crowd also watched in hushed tones as the drama played out in the middle of the field. Announcers began to use words like ‘well-wishes’ and other terms of concern.
“But notably, the one word and the one action that was most observable was in reference to—wait for it—prayer. Many of the players got on their knees and were visibly seen praying. Coaches called their players together to take a knee and pray for Damar, as well they should.
“Solomon wrote, ‘He (God) has also put eternity in their (human’s) hearts’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Another translation puts it this way: ‘He has planted eternity in the human heart’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT).
“When tragedy strikes, something in us looks upward to find answers, to find help, to find hope, to find courage. This occurs in Christ-followers and those who don’t know Christ. It happens among Hindus, Muslims, Jews, agnostics, and atheists. We instinctively, even if only for a few moments, look to something, someone who is beyond us. Years ago, I heard the statement, ‘There are no atheists in foxholes.’
“Solomon said it right: God has placed eternity on our hearts. EVERY human being senses that there is something beyond this reality. The Bible clearly reveals that the something is someone.
“The God who created all that is, the God who did not abandon us in our brokenness and weakness, the God who entered into our reality and took on our fleshly likeness, the God who sacrificed Himself to atone for & pay for our sinful nature, the God who promises to work everything out for good, the God who enters our being and gives us hope and strength to get through, the God who promises that one day all things will make sense, the God who promises to one day right every wrong, the God who promises to do away with any need for tears and grief—that God is the One who put eternity on our hearts.
“Stop denying Him. Stop fighting Him. Stop refusing Him access to your life. Turn to Him and find healing, help, and hope. He made you to do just that.”
Russ Barksdale served as lead pastor for 25 years at Rush Creek Church in Arlington, Texas , and now coaches and consults with pastors and churches via his organization Next Level Leadership nextlevelleadership.org. He also writes daily devotionals at patreon.com/russbarksdale.
Article updated Jan. 6, 11:39 a.m.
Photo: John Sommers II/UPI/Newscom