Triumph over adversity, 9 April 2012

“Pause for thought” on BBC Radio 2’s “Vanessa Feltz Show”

When the 23 year old footballer, Fabrice Muamba collapsed during the recent Bolton – Spurs game it was obvious something very serious had happened.  Fortunately, the medical team was instantly on hand, and worked constantly to save his life.  Even in their experience it was an extraordinary case.  Muamba’s heart stopped beating for 78 minutes.  During that time he received mouth to mouth resuscitation and 15 defibrillator shocks.  Despite the improbable odds, neither Muamba nor the medical team ever gave up.  And mercifully he is now recovering in hospital.

Fabrice’s survival is an amazing story of triumph over adversity which is the theme for this week’s Pause for Thought.

There is something deep within the human spirit which simply refuses to give up when faced with difficult situations.  After a major earthquake the search teams always keep going until there really is absolutely no chance of any further survivors.  When faced with years of oppression and imprisonment, the Burmese pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, fought passionately for freedom for her country.  She has just been elected to the Burmese Parliament.

We all face tough situations from time to time in our lives.  Sometimes these can seem overwhelming.  What is it that keeps us going when life is hard?

For Fabrice Muamba there was certainly expert medical treatment.   But he was also surrounded by the love of his family and friends and overwhelming public support.

This included the Pray4Muamba campaign – stimulated by the clear Christian faith of Muamba and his family.  I don’t know how many people actually prayed for Muamba, or exactly what they thought they were doing if they did.  But, I think, many people recognize instinctively that there are some situations which are simply beyond human control.  And however firm or shaky someone’s faith in God might be, there is a natural instinct in many people to pray at these times.

I think there is far more to this than just wishful thinking, or a last ditch attempt when all else has failed.

Yesterday was Easter Sunday, when Christians remember the story of the Resurrection of Jesus.  It is a story about the triumph of love – both human and divine.  The darkness and suffering of Jesus’ death on Good Friday were not the final word.  The message of Easter is that, however difficult things may seem, God’s love is always at work to bring new life and hope to every situation – both in this world and the next.