It was the 1993 NFL Playoffs where you’re in if you win or you lose and you go home. The Buffalo Bills were locked in a very one-sided battle with the Houston Oilers and their star quarterback, Warren Moon. Moon and the Oiler offense had dominated the Bills to such a degree that the game seemed an utter mismatch, leading the Buffalo squad 35-3 in the third quarter. But, desperate times call for desperate measures. Bills’ starting quarterback Jim Kelly had left the game with a knee injury and little-used backup Frank Reich was sent in for mop-up duty in what seemed to be the inevitable result of a badly embarrassing loss and playoff elimination. Then, under Reich’s steady hand, the Bills came roaring back to a finish now simply known as The Comeback. Scoring 5 late touchdowns to tie the game at the end of regulation, Buffalo won it on a field goal in overtime.
Later, when he was being interviewed, Reich was asked how he had stayed so calm in such a desperate situation. A follower of Christ, he responded that the Christian song, “In Christ Alone” had given him encouragement and comfort during the game—as he let the words of the song continue to calm his spirit, allowing him peace in a stress-filled situation.
Frank Reich’s experience that day is not out of the ordinary. Daily, as followers of Christ, we find ourselves in over our heads. Constantly we experience stress, pressure, and, yes, even desperation, as we try to somehow navigate life in this badly broken world. And then, we are reminded—it is not I, but Christ. He is greater than anything I will face, and I can rest in Him and His love and strength. The apostle Paul experienced this when facing the desperate possibility of spending the rest of his life in a Roman prison. Yet, in spite of that very real possibility, he encouraged the Philippian believers:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
The key, you see, is not that Paul was a transcendent person who was unaffected by fear, danger, or desperation. He was an ordinary man whose life was inextricably linked with an extraordinary God. Through his relationship with Christ, he was able to experience real, lasting peace. Even in the desperate moments of life. The questions we must answer are these:
1) Do I know Christ as my own Savior, so that my life is in Him? And,
2) Am I willing to trust Him and His strength alone in the desperate seasons of life?
The Christ who went to the cross out of His love for us can most certainly be trusted—especially in desperate times. That reality can give us peace in the midst of life’s storms.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain