J.B. Shurk | Contributor
Have you ever been so beset by anguish, fear, or grief that you unconsciously dropped to your knees, interlocked your fingers, and began to pray? Even for people who never embraced religious faith, that instinct seems cemented deep in their souls.
When Damar Hamlin’s heart stopped beating and he lay motionless on the field during Monday Night Football’s matchup between the Bills and Bengals on January 2, the human instinct to reach for God became impossible to miss. Not only were the players of both teams falling to their knees with their hands clasped and lips quietly pleading for intercession, but also fans throughout Paycor Stadium could be seen on national television in deep and solemn prayer. It was soon clear that social media platforms had become inundated with emotional appeals directly to God, begging Him to intervene and save Hamlin’s life.
In a time of social division and disintegration, rampant immorality, and intentional cruelty, Hamlin’s collapse may have led to the first moment since the 9/11 terrorist attacks twenty years ago when so many Americans, united in common purpose, bowed their heads and prayed together. When it finally became clear a full week later that the young player would not only live, but also most likely recover physically, Americans all over the country and from all walks of life knew they had witnessed something miraculous.
In this spiritually fallen world, where sin has been elevated above virtue and God’s blessings are routinely repudiated for the misplaced worship of evil things, weakened Americans damaged from decades of self-hatred and self-inflicted misery saw a man fall to the ground, and in remarkably selfless concern for someone they had never met, those same lost Americans threw away all the rot that clutters their minds and darkens their souls, reaching instead toward what they instinctually knew to be true. And in His mercy, God answered.
For those who have not fallen victim to the cold delusion that life is the meaningless result of deterministic events, random chaos, or Darwinian incrementalism already baked into the preordained physics of the cosmos, Hamlin’s ordeal was hauntingly familiar. So many times over the course of human history, especially when all seems lost, simple and ordinary experiences have instead produced profound effects that echo through the ages. Sometimes a stranger’s unexpected act of kindness creates a ripple effect of generosity across space and time. In other moments, relatively unknown, ordinary men speak from the heart at town hall forums, school board meetings, or community gatherings, and through their poignant yet often forgotten words, they plant the seeds for great movements of change. In this instance, a young athlete in the prime of his life suffered cardiac arrest before a nation of football fans, perhaps so that a nation in prayer could lift him back to his feet. Would it not be accurate to say that Damar Hamlin ended up spiritually healing Americans as much as their prayers helped physically heal him? God moves this world in the most mysterious ways.
Nations, like people, are only as healthy as they are morally sound. Those dedicated to principle and virtue foster civic strength that can withstand an onslaught from foreign foes. Countries rooted in moral conviction are rarely vanquished, and when they do suffer defeat, they tend to rise again another day. On the other hand, nations that cherish power over principle, mock the virtuous, and celebrate sin rot from within like a malignant cancer shredding the body politic, slowly and unnoticed. Immoral countries struggle to survive weak attacks because their people’s fortitude is hollowed and brittle — and when they go down, they do not get back up.
Where does this leave America? Considering the outrageous corruption flowing from D.C.; the ever-growing and power-hungry federal Leviathan swallowing up Americans’ rights and liberties every day; and the once-unimaginable program of government indoctrination preaching outright racism, libertinism, and religious devotion to the State, it is entirely fair to say that evil has seeped much farther into America than most Americans would have once believed. When the nation’s political leadership considers churches and concerned parents more dangerous than the systemic sexualization, barbaric mutilation, and sterilization of children, then it is clear that twisted government authorities worship before the altar of false “woke” gods. When elected officials tell conspicuous lies about everything — Russia collusion, the J6 protests against vote fraud, the origins of COVID-19, the safety of COVID “vaccines,” America’s open borders, “green” energy–inflicted inflation — then it is undeniable that truth has been abandoned for the trashy allure of fabricated “narratives.” When the Intelligence Community spies on American citizens, government-backed news media embrace censorship and propaganda, and politicians enrich multinational companies at the expense of Americans’ livelihoods, then it is obvious that Americans’ foundations in liberty and self-government have been cheaply squandered to fill the pockets of self-aggrandizing officeholders beholden to their corporate masters’ bottom line. If America someday falls, it will be because its politicians and bureaucrats mocked families, browbeat parents, ridiculed religious faith, condemned men of character, and celebrated every kind of sin.
Then there are the American people. At first blush, it might be easy to say that they are no better than the government they have allowed to represent them. “The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness,” George Orwell warned, and yet, “for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.” The American government has spent over a century expanding the welfare State into the biggest Pez dispenser in the world, providing “cradle to grave” welfare in exchange for simply handing government agents complete control over one’s life. “Sign the dotted line there,” the Marxist-socialists tell unsuspecting Americans, “and you will officially become a ward of the State.” Most who sign fail to read the fine print empowering authorities to replace personal faith with their State religion, free speech with their “politically correct” version, and individual liberty with their constant surveillance. As with all bargains with the Devil, the government always gets your soul in the end.
Is America now a population of terminally lost souls, then? Perhaps. And yet, when Damar Hamlin went down, Americans did not pray to government. They did not pray at the altars of racism, division, COVID-1984, global warming, or any other government totem used to instill fear. They bowed their heads, clasped their hands, and prayed to God Almighty. Even while surrounded by a morally decrepit culture that ridicules virtue and exalts sin, the American people still know instinctually that in the battle between good and evil, only God will do. That might not seem like much, but it is a foothold — and a foothold is all we need.
The question is sometimes asked, “When is it necessary to give in to overwhelming odds, abandon hope, and accept defeat?” The simple answer is “never.” In no contest between good and evil, no matter how weary the righteous feel or how indefatigable the wicked behave, can any moral warrior who understands the stakes allow despair to drown hope. Despair is a weight that the Devil is only too happy to place around your neck; hope is the most genuine kind of life raft that keeps the soul afloat. When people under constant attack refuse to languish and instead find within themselves the courage to carry on, many others inclined to wither find inspiration to continue, too. Faith and courage spread like wildfire when individuals of conviction stand bravely and unafraid.
Change happens quickly. Seemingly small events leave deep impressions. You never know whom God might use to accomplish great things. So be ready. It could be you.
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