Daily Devotions

Football Stars and their Examples

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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.

A Disaster-Free Zone

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Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, until the destroying storms pass by. (Psalm 57:1)

In the past few weeks we’ve experienced any number of disasters. The Cathedral of Notre Dame burned, the new Boeing airplane had two separate crashes, in different places, and our own state has suffered horrible flooding. We cry out for answers. I catch myself saying, “If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we stop flooding, or airplane crashes, or protect our international monuments or…”. Is it fair to expect that our world will ever be a disaster free-zone?

Erik Larson, in his Atlantic magazine article, “When Making Things Better Only Makes Them Worse,” believes that no matter how technologically savvy we become, we will never be able to avoid disasters. Larson argues, with the assistance of sociologist Charles Perrow, “Our very attempts to stave off disaster by introducing safety systems ultimately increase the overall complexity of the systems, ensuring that some unpredictable outcome will rear its ugly head no matter what.” An example of this is Toyota’s airbags. Toyota has a great history of making some of the safest cars on the road. But a few years ago, Toyota’s airbags were so sensitive to any minor crash, that people were being injured by premature airbag deployment. Further, in order to keep the human body from hitting the steering wheel or dashboard, they increased the power of the airbag. The airbags had such power that they were badly hurting individuals when they were deployed. Trying so hard to be safe created unintended consequences that actually hurt the people they were trying to help.

There is no question that our world has become safer. A fire like the one at Paris’s Notre Dame would have burned the entire city to the ground a little over a hundred years ago; just remember the earthquake and fire in 1906 San Francisco, or the Chicago fire of 1871. Yet, no matter how hard we work, disasters will continue to occur. Along with continuing to strive for safety improvements, we must also accept that our world is an ever-changing, dynamic system that changes, and disasters occur in the midst of change.

Rather than give up, or despair at this reality, it is important to recognize that disasters can never be totally avoided. Facing disasters requires faith in something greater than the destructive force of the moment. God is the creator of our world, and the one who comes to us in moments of struggle and despair. While we may never be able to avoid all risks, we can trust God to care for us in the midst of disaster. God will help us rebuild and restore. Even when the disaster involves death, God provides life eternal. Today, pray for God to give you the courage to face the potential for disaster. Ask God to give you the perspective to understand what is important in this world. Finally, conclude this devotional by praying for the people of France, those who lost loved ones in the plane crashes, or lost all their possessions in the Midwest floods. The Holy Spirit’s care in moments of disaster makes all the difference.

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