Writing Sample: Tyler Trent And Light In The Wilderness Of Life

I don’t mean to start the new year on a sad note, but I just got an email from a co-worker sharing the ESPN article about Tyler Trent’s death.

If you don’t know about Tyler, he’s the 20-year-old Purdue superfan who has inspired thousands while battling cancer for the past 5 years. If you haven’t seen this powerful College Game Day piece about Tyler’s story, check it out before you keep reading:

There is so much inspiration to be taken from Tyler’s story and the way he battled through such a devastating and life-altering illness. Being a kid in high school is tough but then to find out you have cancer…and to have the cancer return from remission right before you are supposed to start your freshman year at college! I can’t even imagine what that is like. 

Tyler might have spent five years in the wilderness of cancer, but he didn’t let that wilderness keep him from life…and hope. 

Back in early December at the College Football Hall Of Fame here in Atlanta, there was an awards ceremony for the 2018 college football season. Among the recipients was Tyler Trent. He received the Disney Spirit Award for the inspiration he has become to so many. As he receives the reward, he says this:

At the end of the day there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. As long as you rely on your faith, things will work out. 

Tyler Trent

Those words are a remarkable witness. And they bear witness to a truth we read about time and again in the pages of Scripture: God meets us in our wilderness. 

I don’t believe God’s story for Tyler’s life included cancer or dying at 20. I believe God’s plans for our lives are for our welfare, not our harm (Jeremiah 29:11). But I also believe, like Romans 8:28 promises, that God has worked (and will continue to work), in spite of the darkness in our lives, to create a future filled with hope.

That’s the promise of Christmas: that God entered into our world to be present with us and to bring light into the dark, wilderness moments of our lives. And more than that: God didn’t just come to be with us, God came to take on the darkness and conquer it once and for all. 

There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel is maybe another way to say “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

So as we start this new year that is bound to be filled with light and darkness, with joy and sorrow, with plenty and want, with sickness and health, let’s celebrate Tyler Trent’s legacy, let’s remember his family as they mourn, and let’s thank God for the promise of the resurrection: that his family and friends will see him again, just like the Purdue quarterback David Blough reminded us: 

You can listen to my sermon sharing some of Tyler’s story and remembering the promise of light in the wilderness here.

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