Craig Sager: courage on an NBA sideline

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Craig Sager: courage on an NBA sideline

June 17, 2016 -

The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors last night to force Game 7 in the NBA Finals. But my favorite figure on the court wasn’t Stephen Curry or LeBron James. It was a television reporter appearing in his first NBA Finals game. His story of courage is one we need in these discouraging days.

Craig Sager has been a sports reporter for forty-four years. Known by viewers for the loud suits he wears on air, he is better known by colleagues for his journalistic excellence. He has interviewed athletes from the sidelines of NBA games for seventeen years. However, his network has never broadcasted the NBA Finals.

Sager has also been battling leukemia. When the cancer recently returned, doctors gave him three to six months to live. So ESPN, the network broadcasting the championship series, inviting him to join their team for last night’s game. It was an emotional time for players, fans, and especially for Sager.

When his leukemia returned, Sager told reporters, “Still kicking, still fighting. I haven’t won the battle. It’s not over yet. But I haven’t lost it, either. There have been some victories and some setbacks, but I still have to fight it. A lot of work to do.”

We need more Craig Sagers today.

This has been a grief-filled week. The murder of Christian singer Christina Grimmie was followed by the Orlando massacre and the Disney tragedy. Yesterday, CIA Director John Brennan told Congress that despite recent progress against ISIS, “our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach.” Economists warn that a vote by British citizens next week in favor of leaving the European Union could damage the global economy.

In discouraging times, courage can be our most powerful witness. If others see us strong in faith, firm in resolve, and optimistic in spirit, they are drawn to the One who empowers us. When authorities persecuting the apostles “saw the courage of Peter and John,” “they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

Courage is an especially powerful witness for fathers. If our children see us trust God in hard times, they are more likely to trust him as well. I will always remember being with Dr. Gary Cook, then president of Dallas Baptist University, when doctors told him he had leukemia. His immediate response was to trust his life and future to God. His courage in the face of death glorified the Lord he loves. It is no surprise that his sons have followed his example with their own commitment to Christ and to ministry.

Father’s Day is this Sunday. If you’re a father, please join me in committing your life and witness to the God who empowers all who trust him. Then we will say with King David, “I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8).

I also invite you to visit, a ministry of Denison Forum. Here you will find practical biblical advice from parents who face the same challenges we do. I especially encourage you to sign up for the weekly newsletter. Know that God’s promise is for you: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is in the LORD” (Jeremiah 17:7).

Ronald Reagan believed that “all great change in America begins at the dinner table.” Let’s be fathers who trust our Father with such courage and commitment that our children follow us to Jesus. Is there a more urgent privilege today?

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