It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions. – 1 Thessalonians 1:4-6
I have seen my share of heartache in life. Loss and grief have dug grooves like raging rivers. The blood in my soil runs very, very deep. I see all that I’ve been through as a means to enrich me with things God can use to enrich others. “A poured out offering.” Loss counted as gain because the foundation, the powerful current flowing under the surface of my rivers, are built on and powered by the absolute assurance that nothing happens without purpose. When trouble comes I find hope that it could be worse. When my plans hit a brick wall, it’s because God is saving me from what is on the other side of that wall. It’s an act of mercy.
My daughter was at a birthday party Saturday night. I’ve been so busy, trying to cram as much into the tiny spaces of my time, that I messed up what time I was supposed to pick her up. When I got the phone call that I was late, I grabbed my keys and told my shoeless girls that they have to stay home while I went to get their little sister. My husband was out of state so we were all going to have a ‘girls night’ at the movies later. I told them to be ready and I’d be back in a few minutes.
The roads have been covered with snow for a week, but this night they were clear. Most of them anyway. I took a back road to cut time. I have a 4-wheel drive and, after driving for a week without issue, I wasn’t worried. The sun was going down and, though I didn’t know it, the melted snow started to freeze.
I hit a patch of black ice and felt the rear of my SUV lose traction. My dad was a great teacher. As the oldest of eight children, the vehicle I learned to drive in was a Suburban. I know what to do on ice and I know what to do with a heavy vehicle. I turned my wheel toward the spin. First one way, then the other. The problem was, I was going down a hill and it was all icy. I was gaining speed and losing control.
My SUV started sliding sideways down the hill, but, still, I managed to maneuver out of it. When I did, I saw the headlights coming my way. I wasn’t going to be able to get my vehicle under control before we met.
I can’t stand the thought of hurting someone. I would rather be the one who got hurt. I have a high threshold for pain.
Fighting the ice was making it worse. With someone coming toward me, I lost my window. I let my vehicle go off the road. I knew I’d be stuck, but that was better than what I saw ahead. I didn’t realize that the side of the road was down a steep little hill and that the weight of my SUV would compact the snow into a perfect surface to continue sliding. When I saw the tree in front of me, I shut my eyes and waited for the impact.
It’s all like slow motion. The snap of branches. The scream of twisting metal. The splintering windshield. I hit my head on my steering wheel. I broke the steering column with my forearm. The airbags failed. I opened my eyes and watched steam rise out of the mess in front of me.
I couldn’t find my phone to call my friend. I wasn’t thinking clearly when I got out to walk the rest of the way to where they were waiting for me. Some people had stopped and were running toward me. Two more wrecks happened while we stood there talking and waiting to be rescued.
The couple who ran toward me had this strange look in their eyes and kept asking me if I was okay, like they didn’t believe it. I was. I didn’t hurt at all. I know I bumped my head, but it didn’t hurt. They stood there and listened to my account. I told them that I refused to hit the car coming toward me. I was so thankful. The man nodded and said, “That car was us.”
My friends got there with my daughter. While I stood there crying with Ashley, her husband walked a ways away with the other couple to talk. They told him that they knew I was trying not to hit them and when they saw the wreck, they had no doubt that I didn’t survive. Seeing me walk around the back of the SUV shocked them. Then they told him what I was so afraid was the case. I didn’t have my kids with me, but I had no idea what those headlights coming toward me had behind them. When I found out that the couple was with their three kids, I started crying.
So unbelievably thankful.
My SUV is ruined, but I’m not. I am bruised but I’ll heal. I only had liability on my vehicle. Instead of counting my losses, financially mostly (medical bills and the cost of a new family vehicle), I’m counting my blessings. I have so many of them. I believe in God’s sovereignty and I know that there is good that will come out of this.
I was in the emergency room waiting for my cat scan when a woman walked in and gave me a curious look. She was there to wheel my bed down the hall. She introduced herself and shook her head in disbelief. She said, “I can’t believe you’re here. Your story has changed my life. I failed miserably. Lost my marriage, my church family, all my friends… and couldn’t find anything to give me hope. Then someone sent the video you made and it gave me so much hope. I know that God still loves me.”
While I was in the cat scan machine, holding “very still”, she wrote her contact information on a scrap piece of paper so that we could meet and she could tell me her story. I can’t wait to hear it.
God knows what He’s doing. Loss is gain when you believe that. All of my stuff will get worked out. I have no doubt. Sometimes God allows what could be a disaster to fulfill His purpose. Trust is the key to finding joy with the trouble.
Although great trouble accompanied the Word, you were able to take great joy from the Holy Spirit!—taking the trouble with the joy, the joy with the trouble. -1 Thessalonians 1:6