We don’t control the cards we’re dealt. All we can do is play what we have.
Tyler Trent passed away on Tuesday.
The Purdue student had battled a rare form of bone cancer. He had become a sensation in college football and Big Ten circles as being someone the Purdue football team rallied around this season. The hashtag #TylerStrong went viral.
He inspired and encouraged people. He raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer research. He wrote a book that he’d never be able to see completed, but which will also continue to raise money for cancer research.
Tyler was also outspoken about the importance of his faith.
In 2017, Tyler’s cancer returned and he began to pray that God would use this journey for His glory.”
As I think about the impact he had over the last few months, it’s clear that this prayers was answered.
In an interview with Today, Tyler said: “Waking up day to day is like winning a lottery…I try to rely on my faith in Jesus Christ and figure out how to have a good day.”
As his battle continued, Tyler took to Twitter numerous time to glorify God.
It’s amazing to think of all that he did in such a short time. He did more in 20 years than a lot of people who live 80 years. A person can live a lifetime in a short time.
Him and his family were invited to go to a number of major sporting events. In the college football awards season, he was given a Spirit Award from Disney. Stories say that his walls were covered in signed memorabilia from athletes who were moved by his story.
Tyler had a piece run last week in the Indianapolis Star where he talked about gratitude and living days to the fullest. As he was writing, knowing his time was short, he gave an important reminder that we all need:
Though I am in hospice care and have to wake up every morning knowing that the day might be my last, I still have a choice to make: to make that day the best it can be. To make the most of whomever comes to visit, texts, tweets or calls me.
Yet, isn’t that a choice we all have every day? After all, nobody knows the amount of days we have left. Some could say we are all in hospice to a certain degree.
It’s so easy to take life for granted. But no matter if you’re the picture of health, or if you’re in hospice, none of us knows how much time we have.
It would be easy for a person to feel sorry for themselves. But Tyler took the time he did have as being a blessing.
Comments I’ve read from his parents are similarly humbling. In a piece in Multiply Magazine, Tyler’s father talks of his battle and says, ““If I truly believe that my kids are gifts from God, then they belong to God. I’m just a steward. Who am I to say that God’s ways are wrong?” Incredible faith and trust in the ways of the Lord.
I first heard Tyler Trent’s story in October when Ohio State played at Purdue. Trent was a 20 year old Purdue student with terminal cancer. College GameDay did a special story on him. He was interviewed during the game. He predicted a Purdue win.
I didn’t know it at the time, but Tyler had actually had emergency surgery at the beginning of that week and had been violently ill the day before. He took to Twitter in the aftermath of the game and said: “At the end of the day. All glory goes to God, without him there is no way I was going to make the game yesterday. From having to have emergency surgery at the beginning of the week to throwing up all day Friday.”
Throughout the rest of the season, whenever I saw a Purdue game, it seemed like Tyler was there.
Rest in peace, Tyler.
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Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.