Last Sunday our pastor preached on the ministry of Jesus and the importance of our words matching our actions. I’m not sure if I have shared this story on the blog, but his sermon reminded me of God’s faithfulness to me and my family, I am thankful all over again…
When our daughter Abigail was not quite four, she was doing fall chores with her dad and sisters when her hand was crushed in the worst accident any of us had ever had. As my husband brought her inside, I was overwhelmed by her piercing screams and his cries for ice. In the few short moments following the accident, her hand had become unrecognizable. Swollen twice its normal size, I remember wondering how many pieces it had been broken into and whether it could heal or would have to be wired back together. I grabbed her a change of clothes and the homeopathics needed to deal with trauma and shock, and we proceeded to visit two separate ER’s before we found a doctor who was willing to keep her under his supervision.
I was supposed to be decorating camp for a fall ladies retreat and connecting with the keynote speaker who I had arranged to teach the women that weekend. Instead, trusted friends picked up where I had left off and I spent the weekend sleeping in a chair by my daughter’s hospital bed. The nurses came in to check the circulation in her hand every 30 minutes, each time explaining to me that she may need surgery to relieve the pressure which could cause permanent damage to the nerves in her hand. The swelling was so bad that they would not even be able to address the break for some time. The hand was so enlarged with fluid that it was too heavy for her to hold up on her own. It had to be upright and covered in cold packs to minimize the swelling. I had to carry her when she needed the bathroom, and support her arm, protecting it constantly. She became completely dependent on me for a time.
I felt so helpless. If ever there had been a time I wanted to bargain with God, it was then. Yet, I was faced with the stark reality that I had nothing to offer. My very life was given to me by Him, and I had already given it back. I prayed without ceasing. Even in my sleep, my spirit continued to pray. I begged God to spare Abigail from further trauma and bring healing to her hand, but I remembered that she belonged to Him. She and I spent a lot of time reading in the Bible together, talking about Jesus’s miracles and the ways God used trouble in people’s lives to bring about blessing. She asked a lot of questions. I watched her faith grow as my small child began to express that her accident had a purpose and her life mattered.
I was six months pregnant, windburned and exhausted from having a garage sale, and I was barely sleeping there in that hospital. If you know me at all, then you understand that being in a hospital, using conventional medicine, is a stretch for me any day. Yet, there is a time and a place. Somewhere in the middle of all of it, I had this keen concern that my actions match my words. I was afraid that my exhaustion and concern may come out in impatience or unkindness to the staff that cared for my daughter, especially when I didn’t understand what they were doing or they took a long time to meet needs. So I kept praying, and I was mindful of my looks and my words and my tone, sure that desperation colored everything I did.
Abigail was discharged the last day of the ladies retreat. I stopped by the camp to meet with the speaker, Mari, and apologize for not being there. She sat down with me and explained to me that she had been checking in on me all weekend. You see, as God would have it, her daughter was a nurse on the floor where Abigail was being cared for, and while I didn’t realize who she was, she had intimate knowledge of who we were. I don’t know what Mari saw in my face at that time, but she offered love with tender hands and soothing words. Looking into my eyes, she immediately told me that when she had asked how I was doing there in the hospital that weekend, her daughter had told her, “This mother exudes love.” At those four little words, I melted into tears in Mari’s arms. That was the medicine that I needed to hear, and thank-you was the prayer I whispered. I needed to know that my actions had matched my words. That even in crisis, God’s love had been the overwhelming current that propelled my actions under pressure. That even in exhaustion, I had not tarnished my testimony. God used Mari and her daughter to give me this gift.
Mari with Abigail and me on our way home from the hospital.
Abigail’s hand did not heal normally. We continued to go back to the orthopedic surgeon for months, and then for yearly check-ups, and eventually we made a trip to the children’s hospital in Minneapolis. She did not require surgery, but she does have more bones in her hand then what is normal because of the breaks. Yet, she has no pain and enjoys complete range of motion, something the experts say is miraculous. At the age of 4 she told the medical staff that God was healing her hand, and He did; just not in the way we had expected. Today she can say that God sustains her hand. He sustains us all, every moment of every day. He walks with us through our triumphs and our tragedies. He gives us all that is necessary for life and Godliness, and He gives us encouragement and mercy in our moments of weakness. Our ever present help. His actions always match His words. He is a good God, and worthy of all our thanks.
Abigail today (9 years later), turning 13.
Swan photo courtesy of Pixabay.