The NFL preseason officially kicked off last night as the Cleveland Browns defeated the New York Jets in the annual Hall of Fame Game. However, it’s next Thursday’s matchup between the Houston Texans and the New England Patriots that I’m looking forward to most.
Though, to be honest, that’s not a sentence I ever expected to type.
You see, as a Cowboys fan, I don’t really care much about the Texans and would prefer that the Patriots lose every game they play (except for their week 1 matchup against the Eagles). However, Thursday is expected to mark the return of John Metchie III, and that’s something I’m greatly looking forward to seeing.
Two years ago, Metchie was a standout wide receiver at the University of Alabama with the chance to be a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Then he tore his ACL in the SEC Championship game against the Georgia Bulldogs. The recovery was going well enough, however, that the Houston Texans still traded up to take him in the second round five months later.
Unfortunately, Metchie’s return would hit another abrupt halt when he was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia that July. Now, roughly a year later, he’s back on the field and credits his faith as playing a key role in his recovery.
"There's no quit in a guy like that"
As Metchie recently said of his initial diagnosis, “You don’t know what’s gonna happen. You don’t know what the future has in store for you. You, of course, hope that you can overcome it and play football, but I would say probably in the beginning stages, there might’ve been some doubt. But I’ve had a strong faith. I had a strong faith then, and I have a strong faith now.”
And the impact of that outlook has extended well beyond the receiver and his family.
Jalen Pitre, a safety drafted by the Texans shortly before the team took Metchie, spoke of how “it’s really inspiring seeing him fight back and do everything that he’s been doing. He’s a guy that I want on my team because I know there’s no quit in a guy like that. He’s continuing to show up and continuing to fight. That’s big for me.”
Those words echo the way Metchie described the outlook he gained from his time with cancer: “We kind of take for granted life and everything we have to do or everything we get to do during the day. But then when it’s taken away from you, whether you’re young or old in the hospital, you kind of realize that people see clearly what’s important to them and who’s important to them.... You realize the biggest gift you’ve got is your breath and your heartbeat. So the biggest thing I took away was that regardless of age, size, where you came from, everybody had to wake up and fight every day.”
And while Metchie still has a long road ahead of him to carve out a consistent career in the NFL, I like his chances and I’m looking forward to seeing him take that next step on Thursday.
But why is that the case? Why am I so excited about the prospect of watching a person I’ve never met overcome so many obstacles in pursuit of their dream? After all, it’s not my dream.
While those may seem like silly questions with obvious answers, if we really stop to think about why people tend to be drawn to stories like that of John Metchie III, it can teach us two valuable lessons regarding how we should approach our own times of suffering.
We are all affected by cancer
The first reason that John Metchie’s story is so inspiring is that most of us can understand, at least in part, what it’s like to endure cancer. It’s estimated that nearly 40 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime, meaning that even the 60 percent lucky enough not to will likely know someone who has.
While everyone’s experience with the disease is different, the uncertainty and fear that Metchie described at his initial diagnosis is something most will endure at some point along that journey. As such, his story feels more relevant than when the struggle is something we might never experience. And part of God’s redemption in such circumstances is the way he can use that suffering to equip us to be there for others when they encounter something similar.
A. B. Simpson once wrote that “you will have no test of faith that will not fit you to be a blessing if you are obedient to the Lord. I never had a trial but when I got out of the deep river I found some poor pilgrim on the bank that I was able to help by that very experience.”
I know God has used my own experience with cancer to help me better understand what that’s like, and the same can be true for any of the suffering we face in this life. However, the degree to which that is the case is largely dependent on how obedient we remain to the Lord in the process.
We are inspired by faith in hard times
The second reason that I, and so many others, have been drawn to Metchie’s example is the way he approached it and the wisdom he’s imparted now that he’s on the other side.
If he came back to the field angry about what he suffered and denouncing God for letting it happen, then I probably wouldn’t be writing about him today. That’s not to say I’d root against him, but his story wouldn’t feel nearly as relevant or impactful.
Similarly, the way in which we approach our own trials and difficult times has a direct impact on the ways in which God can redeem them to help others. After all, our lives can always serve as a warning, but how much better if they can be an example.
So the next time you encounter a period of hard times, whatever they may be, make a point to ask the Lord to help you endure them in a way that can be of help to others. Such a prayer will not always be easy, but it can go a long way toward putting our pain in perspective.
Where do you need such perspective today?
NOTE: With presidential debates on the horizon, discussing politics can sometimes bring out the most contentious sides of others. And if you happen to be a Christian who disagrees with them on an essential issue, crossing that conversational chasm can seem like an insurmountable task. If that’s you, please request Respectfully, I Disagree: How to Be a Civil Person in an Uncivil Time. Get your physical copy or e-book today.
Publication date: August 4, 2023
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Michael Hickey/Stringer
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
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