If one had asked Fabrice Muamba the 23 year-old Bolton Wanderers midfielder this question, just prior to the FA Cup game against Tottenham Hotspur on 17 March 2012, he might well have answered, “It doesn’t get any better than this”. To participate in a football match at this level is what boys dream about, and to be paid tens of thousands of pounds a week to do so is their ambition.
Banji Aluko wrote a good article in the Nigerian Sunday Tribune saying, ‘When footballer, Fabrice Muamba, slumped on the pitch while playing for his club, the issue of the susceptibility of athletes to cardiac arrest came up again. The 23-year-old Bolton midfielder collapsed face first on the field during a match against Tottenham, with no one else around him. Paramedics immediately began trying to revive Muamba, but his heart didn’t start beating on its own until about two hours later, after he arrived at a London hospital. “In someone his age, genetic abnormalities are the most common cause,” said Dr. Douglas Zipes, a distinguished professor at the Krannert Institute of Cardiology at Indiana University. Aluko continues ‘In recent years, several elite soccer players have collapsed on the field, including Antonio Puerta, a 22-year-old Sevilla midfielder who lost consciousness and fell near his own goal during a Spanish league match in 2007. Doctors treated him on the field and he walked off, but then had a heart attack in the locker room and another in the emergency room of a Seville hospital. He died three days later.’
Many UK football fans have shown visible support for Muamba’s recovery in Hospital by displaying encouraging banners at games and placing flowers at their club wishing him well and assuring him of their prayers.
A few days after Fabrice had his cardiac arrest The Times of India reported the death of another footballer who suffered a heart attack. ‘BANGALORE: In a shocking incident that again brought to light the poor medical facilities provided for local football tournaments, a 27-year-old player died on Wednesday after he collapsed at the Bangalore Football Stadium during a league match. Venkatesh, a midfielder for A-division side Bangalore Mars, came in as substitute in the 73rd minute before collapsing in the dying minutes of the match……. Players and officials carried Venkatesh in their arms off the field, hired an auto rickshaw and rushed him to Hosmat Hospital, where he was declared brought dead. “There was no pulse or respiration. We gave him CPR and defibrillator shocks, but it was too late,” Hosmat vice-president Dr Ajith Benedict Royan said.’
One Hundred years ago in April 1912 the Titanic sank. USA Today commented, ‘The great ship sank 100 years ago April 15, after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York. Of more than 2,200 passengers and crew — the exact number, like much about Titanic, is still in dispute — only 712 (or 713) survived, largely for lack of lifeboats.’
Passengers that boarded the great liner at Belfast or Southampton might have thought, ‘This is the life’, participating in a maiden voyage of such opulence and magnificence. However many of those passengers died unexpectedly, as the ships band played ‘Nearer my God to Thee’, hundreds of people entered the water and were drowned.
The Epistle of James ch 4v14 asks the question, “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” This scripture reminds us of the brevity and uncertainty of life. Isaiah ch40v6 conveys the same message, “The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”
If the question ‘What is your life?’ was put to you at this point in your life, what would your answer be? I remember when I first heard the gospel at RAF Henlow Bedfordshire; I did not want anything or anyone to alter the way my wife and I were living. We thought that dancing to the big bands and drinking with friends at the weekend, that life could not get better. Married nearly two years, if someone had said to us “What is your life?” our answer would have been that it couldn’t get any better than this.
The lives of folk differ as their faces differ. Some may think that responsibilities of work, family and keeping financial stability are a full-time occupation. Others may be in a rut and life does not seem to be going anywhere. Some might be bored, some in despair. What a sad condition it is to be on the treadmill of drugs or alcohol and things seem to be falling apart, thousands are travelling down this road.
Taking these things into account at this Easter season when the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is brought again into our minds, can I ask you again, “What is your life?” Has Christ died on account of your sin and it means nothing to you? Jeremiah asked in Lamentations ch1v12 “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger. Yes! He died for each one of us, but now He lives in the power of an endless life, and He is willing and able to save all who come to Him for forgiveness and eternal life. When that happens and the question is asked, “What is your life”, you can reply, “GREAT!” God bless.
(With thanks to and permission from Stan Burditt)