Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen just scored the biggest victory of his life — and no, I’m not referring to his defeat of the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
Over the past several weeks, Allen and the Bills have been grappling with the sudden collapse of their teammate, safety Damar Hamlin, who went into cardiac arrest during Buffalo’s Jan. 2 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. After receiving CPR and oxygen from on-the-field health officials, Hamlin was transported via ambulance to a local hospital for care.
The incident immediately sparked calls for thoughts and prayers throughout American football. Current and former players, fans, and sports commentators alike came together in support of Hamlin’s recovery. ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky applied his Christian faith in a more public fashion, leading his fellow “NFL Live” colleagues in prayer on live television.
Despite Hamlin’s dire scenario — which included falling into unconsciousness and requiring a breathing tube to stay alive — what transpired over the next several days after his collapse can only be described as a miracle orchestrated by God. By Jan. 6, Hamlin no longer required assistance breathing and retained basic neurological functions, allowing him to speak with family members and hospital staff. After being transported to Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute not long afterward, the 24-year-old was officially discharged from the hospital on Jan. 11.
Josh Allen Finds God
The heaven-sent nature of Hamlin’s recovery hasn’t just received notice from large swaths of the American public, but Hamlin’s teammates as well. Since the incident and Hamlin’s subsequent recovery, Allen has been vocal about the “spiritual awakening” he experienced throughout his teammate’s ordeal.
“It was kind of a spiritual awakening, really, for me,” Allen said on the “Kyle Brandt’s Basement” podcast last week. “I know for a lot of other people that maybe didn’t have the strongest belief, or wasn’t the biggest [or] strongest Christian followers.”
“It’s something I’ve never felt before,” he continued. “It’s something that I know a lot of my teammates have never felt before, and you can’t do anything about it but accept it and lean on your brothers and share that moment with them.”
The remarks weren’t the first time Allen referenced a newfound love for Christ this month. In a Jan. 8 press conference following the Bills’ win against the New England Patriots, Allen openly affirmed his belief in God while discussing Buffalo running back Nyheim Hines’ opening kickoff return for a touchdown. The last time Buffalo completed such a feat was three years and three months prior — the same number Hamlin wears on his jersey.
“I was going around with my teammates saying, ‘God is real,’” Allen said through tears. “You can’t draw that one up, write that one up any better. And I was just told … it’s been three years and three months since the last kickoff return, so it’s pretty cool.”
“I’ve never been struck like that before — from a play, from an experience, from an emotion — it’s never hit me that way before,” Allen said of his press conference remarks during his interview with Brandt. “I’ll be the first to admit, like, I haven’t been the most devoted Christ follower in my life. I’ve had my different beliefs and thoughts and ideas and stuff like that, but something got ahold of me there and it was extremely powerful that, you know, I couldn’t deny it.”
It’s Never Too Late to Turn to God
In a culture rife with hate and impropriety, open professions of faith in Christ like Allen’s are refreshing and much needed. His “come to Jesus” moment isn’t just an admission of God’s palpable existence, but a realization that we can’t live fulfilled lives without Him.
Attempting to make it through life without God is a disaster waiting to happen. As we’ve witnessed time and again in modern America, attempts to live life according to one’s arbitrary “truth” rather than God’s Word ends in misery and despair. Relying on yourself or others to bring you worldly joy is a fool’s errand because, at the end of the day, we’re all sinners.
But following God offers us a different path.
Whether nonbelievers would like to admit it, God loves us and wants us to live accomplished lives that transcend our material existence. It’s why “he gave his only begotten Son,” so that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Through the blood of Jesus, we are given a chance to wash away our sins and to be restored in right relationship with God, and that is the greatest act of love ever given.
Allen’s apparent realization of this should serve as a lesson that no matter where you find yourself in life, it’s never too late to embrace Christ. As much of the country prayed for Hamlin, let’s pray for Allen too — and that his case isn’t an anomaly, but a sign that our culture is reorienting itself toward God and his Word.