“Is God punishing me?” – Jermichael Finley, injured Green Bay Packers football player, recounting his thoughts while lying paralyzed on the Lambeau Field turf during an NFL game Oct. 20 against the Cleveland Browns.
“Hear my cry, O God. … I take refuge in the shelter of your wings.” – Psalm 61
I never criticize anyone’s anger, fear or theology in the immediate season of traumatic stress. We’ve all thought, said and done the darnedest things when pain ambushes the security of the moment, even on a football field.
Finley, unable to move or breathe, whispered breathless, desperate pleas for help to wide-eyed, terrified teammates. Fast-responding NFL medical help restored Finley’s breathing. What turned out to be a bruised spinal cord un-shocked itself, quickly returning limited motion to the talented tight end’s extremities.
Finley – he of the famed “Lambeau Leap” into the celebratory end zone caress of Packer fans after touchdowns – could manage only half a determined wave to the silent stadium crowd minutes later as he was carted from the field.
Recovering rapidly in a Green Bay, Wis., hospital, Finley was standing and able to shower alone the next day. Soon after, Finley and co-writer Peter King penned Finley’s first-person thoughts about the injury (Link – NFL Finley Story).
Finley pondered God’s punishment and mentioned being blessed by the love and fellowship of his teammates, almost all of whom visited him in the hospital. His 5-year-old son Kaydon prays for Dad before every game; Kaydon wondered if God hadn’t heard his prayers that day. Finley values life and appreciates the amazing physical gifts, talents, discipline and opportunities that have culminated in a top-notch – but now imperiled – NFL career. We wish him well in his recovery and life’s journey..
It’s worth noting, as Western society largely rebels against religion overall, God generally, and Jesus Christ specifically, how often in a crisis our first, personal reaction involves some inclusion or mention of God – for better or worse.
I had this thought upon reading Finley’s story: In our fear and pain, why do we so often think, reflexively, that God is punishing us? Or ignoring prayers? Or that our best blessings reside in our earthly family and friends?
If we think to call on God at all, we should know reflexively that He is our refuge and shelter. Jesus Christ endured the cross to forgive us and save us in the Glory of God. In Jesus reside our real, best blessings of hope, endurance, comfort and courage. Our first thought in a crisis should always be: “Lord Jesus, give me strength.”
Doubting Him only compounds life’s pain.
Walters (email@example.com) opines that merely believing “God is there” isn’t necessarily a comfort; trusting God’s goodness is.