Athletes thanking God after a big win has become an always welcome but somewhat clichéd occurrence over the years. But sometimes those public displays of faith hit a bit differently when you hear them, and that was the case with two particular Super Bowl Christian players.
“I’d like to thank God”
Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes has been consistent about giving God the glory for his success, starting his MVP acceptance speech Thursday night with “First, I want to thank God for giving me this platform.”
But it was a different comment that caught my eye recently.
In an interview following the Chief’s win over the Bengals last Sunday, Mahomes began his interview with CBS‘s Tracy Wolfson by stating “First off, I wanna thank God, man. He healed my body this week to battle through that. He gave me the strength to be out there.”
Such healing was needed because Mahomes had suffered a high ankle sprain in the previous week’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars—an injury that typically requires six to eight weeks to heal. While quarterbacks can often return sooner, the injury made his performance all the more remarkable.
Team doctors and world-class training staff certainly helped, but that six-to-eight-week timeline is based on players who receive similar treatment. It is certainly plausible that God made a difference, and anyone who heard Mahomes’ statement after the game has to at least consider the possibility.
However, the Chief’s quarterback is not the only Christian in the big game making headlines for his faith in recent days.
“God had other plans”
When Philadelphia wide receiver A. J. Brown was traded from the Titans to the Eagles during last year’s draft, he cried.
As John Ackerman notes, Brown was drafted by Tennessee and thought that’s where he would spend the bulk of his career. His play had certainly warranted such consideration, and he’d quickly become a pillar of the team’s offense.
A conversation with his new quarterback, Jalen Hurts—another of the prominent Super Bowl Christian players suiting up on Sunday—quickly changed his perspective, though.
And, as he described earlier this week, he now looks back on the trade and sees the Lord’s hand at work: “I had plans and God had other plans. I try not to lean on my own understanding. I read the Bible a lot because that’s how I fight my problems. I’m not trying to stand up here and be a perfect guy because I’m not; nobody is. But I just lean heavily on my faith and try to let him direct my paths.”
A remarkable testament to God’s power
What stood out to me most about these two athletes was the way they described seeing God’s hand at work during the struggles they’ve faced this season.
That’s not to say the Lord wanted Arden Key to roll up on Mahomes’ ankle or that Eagles GM Howie Roseman was acting under divine inspiration when he traded for A. J. Brown—though Philly fans might disagree with that last assessment.
But their approach reminds us that God doesn’t have to be directly responsible for our trials to bring good out of them.
Are there times when he tests us and brings hardship into our lives as a way of drawing us closer to him and helping us grow? Absolutely (Deuteronomy 8:2). But sometimes bad things just happen, and the difficulties we face are not always part of his ideal plans for our lives.
Still, it’s a remarkable testament to God’s power that he can redeem them to such an extent that, looking back, we can struggle to know if those trials came from him or some other cause. Moreover, thinking back on such examples of redemption should fill us with the faith that we can trust him the next time we struggle as well. And, this side of heaven, there will be a next time.
How to experience God’s redemption
So take a moment today and ask the Lord to help you prepare for those future struggles by looking back on how he’s brought you through the trials in your past.
As Dr. Jim Denison frequently states, God redeems all that he allows. But the degree to which we experience that redemption in our own lives is often tied to how closely we’re walking with the Lord as he works.
And know that one of the ways God often redeems our suffering is by equipping us to help others who are experiencing something similar.
Whom have your experiences prepared you to help today?