I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7

Shaquem Griffin put up some impressive numbers at this year’s NFL combine. The combine is the opportunity for prospective draft picks to show off their stuff before teams make their final decision on draft day. During his senior year, Griffin was an instrumental part of an undefeated season at the University of Central Florida (where his twin brother Shaquill also played football). A two-time All-ACC selection, Shaquem was a 2017 second team All-American. Now at the combine, he bench pressed 225 pounds 20 times before running the 40 yard dash in 4.38 seconds. This was the fastest time for a linebacker since 2003.

In spite of his impressive resume, the weekend of the draft, Griffin watched as 13 linebackers were taken. But when the fourth round closed, his name had not yet been called. And he knew why.

Griffin was born with amniotic band syndrome. The result was an undeveloped left hand and painful nerve complications. At age 4, when his mother walked into the kitchen to find Griffin with a knife preparing to cut off his own hand, she arranged to have it amputated. His parents raised him and his brother the same way, making only minor modifications to support Shaquem. He had to work harder than his peers to prove himself, and he always had to have a plan for succeeding with a missing limb.

In the days leading up to the draft, Griffin’s story was covered by several news outlets including Sports Illustrated. The NFL had never drafted an amputee. But Griffin was too good to overlook. Albert Breer, columnist with SI described Griffin’s heart this way: “Fighting through a shortcoming is one thing. Having a plan for coming out on the other side of the story is just as important. Clearly, Griffin’s always had a plan. . . These things aren’t just a result of desire. There’s design to it.”

And that design payed off, With the 4th pick in the 5th round, the Seattle Seahawks, the team which last year drafted his brother Shaquill, took Shaquem.

So, you might be wondering, what was that design? Doubtless every adversity required a specific game-plan. But was their an overarching plan that informed all the others. Griffin was interviewed by ESPN shortly after receiving that phone call from Coach Pete Carroll, a call that concluded with Carroll telling him to “stay humble and don’t let this moment define who you are.” In that interview, Griffin explained what it was like to watch and wait for his big moment:

“It was tough. I’m not going to lie to you. Watching all those guys picked in front of me, just falling back and knowing that I did everything I was supposed to do. . . It was in God’s hands.”

There it is. Did you see it? Do your best work, then allow God to do his.

You cannot control circumstances. But you can control how you respond to them. Sometimes, we are tempted to give up and surrender to a lesser path because of misfortune. Other times we take on the pressure of proving ourselves to a world that has written us off. Both approaches inevitably lead to endless frustration. At least for this moment in his career, Griffin nailed the solution to both temptations. Do your best work, then allow God to do his. Work faithfully, then have faith in God’s work. Try. . . and then trust!


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