DeAndre Hopkins, the All-Pro wide receiver for the Houston Texans, has seen his share of personal challenges. He never knew his father, who died in a car accident when he was just a few months old. His mother, Sabrina Greenlee, was seriously injured when he was 10. She lost her sight in one eye and almost went blind in the other. He had an uncle who was killed, and a cousin who tried to commit suicide. In 2012, DeAndre suffered a concussion when he was involved in a car accident on his way to catch the team bus for Clemson’s appearance in the Orange Bowl.
“My whole life was tough growing up,” he says. “We all have obstacles to overcome. It seemed for me that growing up in Section 8 housing as a young black man was really tough.” But his mother made sure he was raised in church where he learned to lean on God and avoid resentment about his situation. “My faith is a big, big thing for me,” DeAndre says. “It is a major part of my life, and my mom made sure I knew about God.” Today, she still sends him a prayer before each game, and he credits his success to her determination. “She raised us in tough times, held down two jobs, and I watched her faith grow stronger and stronger,” he says.
He is open and transparent about his spirituality to the point that he was publicly baptized after practice at Clemson one day in 2012. He says he wanted to let his peers and teammates know his life was dedicated to Jesus Christ.
DeAndre worked his way to earn a first-round draft pick in 2013. He has been named first-team All-Pro and made two Pro-Bowl appearances. In 2017, he was the NFL touchdown leader for receivers.
He could have decided at a younger age to go in a different direction and develop a hostility toward the church and God, but his mother took him to worship services and taught him to honor his heavenly Father. “No matter how hard life can get, you can never give up,” he says. “Just work hard, live right, and have faith in the Lord.”
But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded (2 Chronicles 15:7 ESV).
Has life come down hard on you? Perhaps you lost your job, or you are in over your head in debt with no immediate way out. Maybe you received some disturbing news from your doctors or lost someone close to you. Have you been there? When life sacks you in the backfield for a big loss, don’t send in the punting team yet. Draw up a game plan and a strategy to put yourself into scoring position. You can make a big play to give yourself better field position and make it possible to score on the next opportunity.
Here are some tips to help you choose a faithful attitude of determination:
- Listen more in prayer: Many people are in a habit of asking for things when they pray. However, try to begin with thanks, and praise Him first. If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer (Exodus 15:26 ESV).
- Keep your appointments: God likes to hear from you. If you want to be able to get through difficult situations, you must be consistent in your devotional time with the Master. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Matthew 6:6 ESV).
- Accept suffering as God’s way to prepare you to help others: Tough experiences will equip you to handle struggles and train you to counsel others who go through trials in life. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV).
- Praise God in the storm: When you glorify the Father with a genuine heart through difficult situations, you will become stronger. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10 ESV).