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Eddie Guerrero passed away Nov. 13 from heart failure.
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SALT & LIGHT

Wrestling with the Darkness

By Elliott Ryan
Guest Writer

CBN.comI started watching professional wrestling when I was seven years old. It was very different back then. Sure, it has always been about people acting like they were angry at each other and pretending to fight each other. It used to be an over-the-top, melodramatic exhibition of good vs. evil. But in the late 1990s, it became something worse. It became something perverse and vulgar that was less about an athletic exhibition and more about shocking television designed to push the envelope of what was appropriate on prime time television.

So I was not unfamiliar with the product, when I recently heard about the death of another pro wrestler this weekend. In a business where people work injured and self-medicate to deal with the pain, it seems death has become all too frequent of an occurrence.

But this article isn't about the evils of pro wrestling. It is about something good.

On Sunday, I came across a news article about the death of a professional wrestler named Eddie Guerrero. It saddened me because I knew of Eddie's life story. And I knew about his faith.

Eddie came from a family that was deeply entrenched in the wrestling business. When I watched wrestling as a kid, I remember seeing his brother Hector wrestle live in person at a local arena. He had several other brothers who wrestled and also a nephew who still wrestles. That nephew is the person who found Eddie dead in his hotel room. He was found dead in the bathroom of his hotel room with his toothbrush still in his mouth. Apparent cause of death was a heart attack though autopsy results are pending.

Eddie’s adult life had been marred by addictions. He became a slave to pain killers after an injury which was worsened by alcoholism. He was released by the company he worked for several years ago as a result of showing up to work "in no condition to perform." If Eddie had passed away at that point, his life would have been a sad story but not entirely atypical from other wrestling deaths.

But Eddie went to rehab. He dealt with his addictions. And he turned back to God. See, Eddie was a born-again Christian. Eddie's faith in God deepened as He gave Eddie the power to overcome his demons. He got rehired by the wrestling company that had previously fired him. And he lived his faith out in front of the other performers.

He has made several public comments about how his faith helped him and his family through the storms he endured. By all accounts, Eddie had been clean for the last four years. Perhaps all the damage done by his years of hard living had already taken its toll on his body though.

On television this week, a wrestling tribute show was held in Eddie's honor. So I tuned in to see what the wrestlers had to say. It was actually a very touching show. There weren't any interviews from wrestlers about how they wanted to beat someone up. All of the comments on that evening dealt with their memories of Eddie. To see 300 pound fighters openly sobbing on national TV is surreal. Many wrestlers mentioned how Eddie was a man of faith and they knew he was in a better place. One of the league's champions talked about how Eddie used to read his Bible to him when he was discouraged.

But the most interesting comments came from a wrestler named Shawn Micheals. Shawn also accepted Christ a few years ago. In his comments on the tribute show, he talked about how he and Eddie had encouraged each other in their faith. He said that Eddie's witness to the rest of the locker room continued even in death. He then told how earlier that day, all of the wrestlers in the company joined together in prayer. He stressed that they prayed in the name of Jesus Christ.

Think about that. The roster of the largest pro wrestling company in the world joined in prayer in Jesus' name. And then it was mentioned on their weekly TV show which airs all over the world.

Jesus calls us to be a light in the darkness.

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." -- Matthew 5:14-15

Eddie Guerrero was that in life and death. I hope that those wrestlers and their fans take time to think about his life and his witness. If it causes them to pause and think about their spiritual lives, then God may bring something good out of a terribly sad day for Eddie's family and friends.

When I was a little kid, I looked up to wrestlers. My young faith and my interest in wrestling combined to lead me to pray for the salvation of all the wrestlers I watched. I seriously prayed that regularly for years as a child. My prayer for wrestlers all began when one of my favorite wrestlers got in a car crash that he barely survived. He never wrestled again. So I prayed for him and that led to praying for all the wrestlers.

Twenty years later, many of the wrestlers I prayed for are Christians today. In fact, the wrestler in that auto accident is a Christian today. One of my other favorite wrestlers named Sting accepted Christ, left the wrestling business and has had a movie made last year about his turn to Christ. (Read Sting's interview from the 700 Club). A bunch of those wrestlers I prayed for now speak in churches about their Christian faith. It seems that every few months I hear about another wrestler I prayed for accepting Christ.

I told someone as a kid that I was praying for professional wrestlers. That person just kind of chuckled. But I am glad I did it.

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints..." -- Ephesians 1:17-18

 

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