And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:10)
One Saturday morning, I got sucked into three hours of television. Now, I rationalize that at least part of the time I was working out; but still, it ended up being time well spent. I watched the NFL Channel series called “An NFL Life.” Each of the three stories were about famous NFL players who died too young or suffered a tragic illness. The three players were Derrick Thomas, Sam Mills, and Steve Gleason. While their stories were tragic, each story was emotional in the way they, or their family and friends, dealt with their illnesses or deaths.
Derrick Thomas died in a car accident at the age of 33, while still playing linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs. 5’9” linebacker, Sam Mills finished a fifteen-year career as a player and was an NFL coach when he died of colon cancer. Meanwhile, Steve Gleason, the New Orleans Saints’ safety, whose famous blocked punt in the first game back after Katrina, is now dying from ALS. Each of these stories is filled with hope and despair.
Each of these men made a huge difference in the world around them. Derrick Thomas was NFL Man of the Year and spent a vast amount of money providing educational opportunities for underprivileged children through his foundation. Sam Mills continued to coach through his stage four colon cancer, giving his players an inside look at courage and real strength. Finally, Steve Gleason, even after being wheelchair bound, created a foundation that helps people with ALS. With the help of friends and his wife, Steve was carried in a special wheelchair to the top of Machu Picchu. While Gleason is very frail now, his foundation continues to make a huge difference.
Today, think about how you are living your life. You and I may not be NFL players, but we can make a difference in this world. Even our deepest pain can be moments for transformation. Pray for God to use your struggles to provide others with blessings. And remember this quote by Timothy Kreider: “Time is a one-way arrow, as ruthless as gravity, plummeting us toward a date no one wants to know, like the ground expanding toward us.” Yet, in the midst of our mortality, we can touch the lives of others, and make a difference in God’s name, in the time we have left upon this earth.