Wondering why we as a site have been absent lately from continuous blog posting? At various times in the past, I’ve not been that motivated to write for whatever reason. Sometimes it would be a mind blank, which is the primary reason why these last few weeks, there hasn’t been a week where every single blog is uploaded online. This week, there was a different reason for the hesitation of writing, (a blog post after Throwback Tuesdays and before the Sunday News Roundup). An event that united the world, it was not for jovial or happy reasons- for it was because of this pivotal moment in Australian history that encouraged me to discuss this week’s Worship Wednesdays, TV Thursdays and Sentimental Saturdays all in one post. To be honest, this dark and sad week has reminded me of the frailty and shortness of life, and writing my thoughts and feelings in this article will hopefully make sense of what has happened and hopefully allow people to heal in their own way, inclusive of myself. There are weeks that change you and move you to reflect about life, and this was one of them.
You may know what I am talking about, especially if you’re a fan of cricket, or you may not. For those readers who are living in the U.S. (which I gather are quite a fair chunk of you) you may be completely in the dark and bewildered, but let me quickly tell you about the tragic accident that occurred on Tuesday 25th November 2014, and ended two days later with a harrowing, unpleasant and sad result.
Phillip Hughes, one of Australia’s promising young cricketers who was poised to make a comeback to the Australia Test cricket team, and hopefully restart his career and flourish in the team; passed away a couple of days ago, by the most unnatural of circumstances. Struck on the side of the head by a cricket ball on Tuesday afternoon, when the bowler Sean Abbott (who was a teammate of Hughes’s in NSW a few years ago) attempted a bouncer, Hughes was playing for South Australia during a 4 day domestic game, and lost consciousness late on Tuesday. The doctors later informed the media on Thursday afternoon of his passing- that Hughes was hit in the neck and one of the blood vessels burst, with blood entering his brain, leading to him being in an induced coma. Unfortunately Phil never regained consciousness some 48 hours later, even though doctors and nurses tried their hardest to ensure he would be awake. What was remarkable though was how many people globally, were supporting him, and his family. Throughout the coma, millions of social media posts by current and former Australian and international players poured in, reiterating that they were thinking of him and praying for him. And when Phil passed away two days later, again the shock and disbelief, as well as thoughts and prayers, were expressed in many social media posts as we all felt the pain of the Hughes’s and feelings of sadness, sickness and raw emotion swept the nation and also the world.
No one really expected the death, as Phil was young. He was to turn 26 tomorrow if he had survived, and that was partly why this death has hit so hard around the world- there was so much life ahead of him, and it seemed to be cruel that it was emphatically cut short, for no apparent reason at all. Phil not only played for Australia, South Australia, and NSW, but also in an English domestic team and an India domestic team, thus the impact of his death was far reaching beyond many borders in terms of players and fans. I don’t think that any cricket player has died playing cricket, and that’s what makes this incident hard to believe and unfathomable. Every time I dwell upon the whole incident, I feel a bit sick in my stomach, and also really sad, and I am sure that it has affected many around the world as well.
While I won’t delve into the analysis of where the Aussie team goes from here, and how the players and everyone else involved felt (especially Sean, who must be feeling terrible!)- (I will leave that to expert websites like cricinfo and cricket.com.au); what I want to do in this post is to reconcile my feelings on the matter of Hughes’ passing (as he was one of my favourite players) with worshipping God in the midst of suffering, watching cricket on the TV this summer, and remembering about the good times in life in general. Combining Worship Wednesdays, TV Thursdays and Sentimental Saturdays is a weird thing to do, but I think in this circumstance it makes sense.
As Australians, we love sport. Rugby league, rugby union, soccer, AFL, cricket, tennis, cycling, as well as the Olympic sports, it seems that sport is always constant throughout the year. When the season for one sport ends, the season for another sport starts. It also seems like as Australians, sport seems like a religion, and we ‘worship’ the players in one sense, expecting them to be superhuman and larger than life. In a situation like this though- a freak accident that shouldn’t and can’t be overanalysed, blame cannot be cast towards certain parties, even though we want to, to make sense of things. We are brought back down to earth quite dramatically as we realise our own mortality, and also realise that the idols we ‘worship’ are human just like us. Sometimes, we also reconsider who in fact we should turn to and worship in times like these. Hopefully some people do not blame God for this, however sad to say some do and will. They say ‘If only… then Phil would be still alive…’. Well that’s true, but as a Christian, I believe that God uses everything for his glory- even the things that He didn’t cause.
While a post about God’s sovereignty vs the suffering and early deaths in this world is for another time, I will sum up this part of the post by reminding us that God is faithful all the time, and we can worship him regardless of circumstances in this life, even when it seems like everything has fallen apart. Even when a public death of a lovable guy is around us, God’s name can still be glorified, as He is holy, sovereign, and also doesn’t change, with respect to His love and kindness to all. Hard as it is to wrap our heads around, I will leave you with a song that I hope ministers to you, by Steven Curtis Chapman, called “Beauty Will Rise”, as well as the story behind the song, and I pray that it brings healing in this difficult time. What answer does this song bring to the question of why Phil died though, and when can we and should we worship God? There’s no answer, and the point of this part of the blog is that it’s ok to have no answer in times like these, and it’s ok to voice our thoughts to God. Just know that God will answer our questions, and He is there if we want comfort and need to grieve.
This brings me to the question on everyone’s lips. Now that the 1st test between Australia and India has been officially delayed, what will happen to 9’s Wide World of Sports? Will any of us watch the coverage of cricket with the same passion and intensity this summer as before, knowing that what happened to Hughes can happen to anybody, anytime, anywhere in the world? Prior to Hughes’ death, head injuries in cricket were few and far between, and though Hughes’ death doesn’t mean that unnatural death is lurking around every corner for cricketers, the public and players will no doubt be wary in their approach to cricket from now on. The game will still go on in spite of everything that’s happened, to the displeasure of some people- it has to, I guess to honour the player, and to show the nation that we as Aussies can rise above any adversity. Sure God will help us through this tragedy, but I expect that whenever cricket is shown on TV, it’ll be hard to watch.
That’s normal and understandable in the wake of something horrific, but as far as a concrete answer to you all as to when we all will recover to fully embrace cricket on the TV again, I don’t know when that will be. And that’s ok, as someday we all will be able to watch cricket on TV without feeling sad and angry. It may be soon, it may be in a few years, and I guess my rambling on this section is just to promote more discussion of your views.
So this brings me to the ‘sentimental’ part. No one knows when our time is up to leave this earth. Which makes deaths of anyone like Phil and younger hard to fathom and swallow. Why is it that one person lives and another dies? Frankly I can’t answer that question. God hates it when death occurs. He created man and woman to live forever, and then the devil stepped in. So He’s crying as much as Phil’s family, maybe even more so. God has been there, with the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross- He knows the pain that everyone is feeling, and more so. But that probably wouldn’t bring any sense, healing or comfort to Phil’s family and friends. Still, there is one thing that I know- the only thing we can do as fans of cricket, and fans of Phil’s right now is to pray for the family and pray for God’s healing hand of restoration, as He comforts and draws people to Himself. As we look back on our life, surely this incident reminds us to live life to the fullest, and if there’s only one ‘positive’ that comes out of this tragic incident, it’s that we have a better appreciation of life, and can live it to the fullest a bit more, cherishing each day before it blinks away out of existence.
So what short message could I impart to each of you, so that it doesn’t sound preachy or insensitive to the Aussie cricket team and others impacted by Phil’s sudden departure from earth? I would ask you to treasure your days on earth, and always keep eternity in mind, as we never know when our time is up. We never know what is around the corner, and we never know when a tragedy can hit us. So let us grieve together, tell stories of our favourite Phil Hughes’ innings with the bat, and remember that no one lives forever, not even our idols and heroes. Let’s live life to the fullest and have no regrets. Phil certainly lived with no regrets, up until the very end, and I am sure his family and friends will be proud of the life he lived. Phil was fearless. So why can’t we be, as we know that God is with us, and for us? No one can therefore be against us, and that hopefully brings some level of comfort.