Cupcakes and Rainbows – Life After Tragedy – Day 4

Day 4 – The Nightmare Gets Worse

“It could always be worse…” is a phrase used to remind people (very insensitively) that although their situation is bad, it could always be worse. This is a very poor attempt to comfort someone who is struggling. If you are reading through this plan, chances are you have heard this sad attempt to comfort you.

 

While in the early days of my recovery and fight to live, I experienced something called “delirium”. Although there is a much more scientific explanation available elsewhere, I want to share my experience with you. Because of the mix of medications, trauma, isolation, grief and physical pain, I began to have some of the most horrible, realistic, scary dreams you can imagine.

 

Repeatedly while in the hospital, I can remember becoming agitated. Sometimes it was triggered by a specific person visiting me or finding out some new, heart wrenching development. The hallucinations would probably be a good follow-up book one day but for now let it suffice to say the nightmares seemed overpoweringly real. They were amazingly detailed and so overpowering that I still remember them.

 

I only share even the thought of this delirium to share this truth with you: even in the face of horrific, overpowering, desperate situations, God is in control. He alone can sustain you and pull you through. No matter how deep your grief, God is there along side you.

 

As I think back to it now, episode after episode, God was there helping me endure the delirium. I remember the fear, panic, and helpless feeling I had as one terror after another came. There were moments where I felt like I was losing my mind. It is interesting that our greatest enemy uses lies to create fear, anger, desperation, and hopelessness in our lives. I am thankful that God sustained me then and he continues to sustain me now.

 

I don’t know what lies the enemy is telling you. “God doesn’t love you”. “God has abandoned you”. “God can’t save you”. The lies that satan tells us, especially in our greatest weakness, are designed to destroy us. I can honestly say that without God’s abundant grace, I would have never walked out of the hospital. What lies is the enemy telling you? Replace those lies with the promises of God.

 

Remember today that alone, you are not strong enough to stand against the lies of the enemy. Thankfully, you aren’t alone. Through faith in Jesus you are filled with God’s Spirit and He (the Holy Spirit) is greater than he who is in the world (satan).

 

First today we will look at the fact that our enemy is the father of lies, the author of confusion, and that he is like a lion looking for a soul to devour (1 Peter 5:8). It is when we realize that our greatest enemy seeks to use the grief to destroy us and separate us from God, that we can seek refuge in the One who can protect us (1 Peter 4:4).

 

Second we will look at the Scripture where we see both the faith and fear of one of the super heroes of the New Testament, Peter. During the midst of a storm, we will see that Peter walked out on the water when he trusted Jesus. We will also see that the second he got distracted by the wind and waves, that Peter began to sink. Ultimately we will see that Jesus saved him when Peter cried out (Matthew 14:22-33).

 

Today’s Prayer: Lord, the fear and hurt seem like they will consume us. Today we confess that we don’t understand your purpose but we trust that you are good! Lord we thank you that when we feel like we are drowning, that you walk on water. Calm the storms in our heart and help us to hear your voice. Help us hear your truth and flood our hearts with the overwhelming calm and peace you promise. Please protect our hearts from every force of darkness that seeks to destroy us. Give us strength for today, in Jesus name.

Cupcakes and Rainbows – Life After Tragedy – Day 3

Day 3 – The Wakeup Call

After what only seemed like a few moments, I woke up. Laying in the hospital bed I could hear family talking near me as the sounds of the machines keeping me alive were humming around me. As I awoke from multiple surgeries to steel plate my broken ribs and repair my torn aorta, my nightmare had only just begun.

 

As I lay there on a ventilator, totally unable to move, I remember seeing my older brother for the first time since the wreck. As he came and gently held my hand and explained a part of what had occurred, I could see the heartache in his face. In that moment no one had shared that my daughter Brynleigh had died during the initial wreck (although I already knew she was with the Lord).

 

Thinking about it now, it all seems like a bad dream. Did I have brain damage? Would I ever be able to walk, talk, and live a normal life again? Would I even survive the next few days and months? In that moment so many questions remained unanswered. I remember feeling so helpless and overwhelmed. Was my wife OK? Was my son OK? Would I be OK?

 

Because of the velocity of the collision, I had extensive nerve damage in my hands. Because of being on the ventilator and the nerve damage, I was unable to communicate with family or doctors. I can remember spending so much time praying (God was the only one I could communicate with!) But also feeling so alone (as if even God had forgotten me).

 

I can say with certainty that it was God alone who would help me endure the painful recovery over the next few months. They say that “hindsight” is 20/20. It is so easy now looking back and seeing God sustaining me. Slowly over the months and years after the accident I can see God teaching me to trust Him (even in the most desperate circumstances).

 

If you find it hard to trust God right now, don’t deny it or try to hide it. He knows… confess it. I know it seems impossible in the midst of whatever desperate situation you find yourself in, but it is our deepest despair that our intimacy grows and we become closer to God. You may not believe me now but there is coming a day where you will look back and see that God sustained you just like He sustained me. Go to Him again and again for peace, He gives us peace, wisdom, and strength to help even (especially) in the midst of great trials and doubt.

 

As we close today’s devotion, we will look at several reminders in Scripture that should give all of us hope. Remember these promises in the midst of your own pain and suffering:

 

First God is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). As we saw during the first day of our reading plan, Jesus knows exactly what we are facing. Because Jesus (God with us) lived a life as a man, we are assured that He faced every temptation, trail, and suffering imaginable to us. When you feel alone, remember that if you’ve placed your faith in Jesus, you are never alone (Hebrews 13:5).

 

Second it gives me great hope that even when I don’t have the words to say (or can’t say them!) that God hears my prayers (Romans 8:26-27). Even when I don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit takes my prayers to God. Remember that God promises peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:6) and wisdom to those who ask (James 1:5).

 

Today’s Prayer: Lord, we admit: our hearts are broken. Lord the grief feels overwhelming, overpowering, and we feel helpless to break out of these chains. We are surrounded by a world that continues like nothing has changed, but Lord everything has changed! Help us Jesus, we need you. On the promise of Scripture we know God that you are near to those who are brokenhearted, that you promise peace that passes understanding, and you give wisdom to those who ask, let us feel your presence. Holy Spirit fill us with the peace that we only have through faith in Jesus, it is in Jesus name we pray.

Cupcakes and Rainbows – Life After Tragedy – Day 2

Day 2 – The Longest Ride

As the rain continued to fall, as I struggled to breathe. As the blood continued to run in my mouth, finally I was loaded in to an ambulance. I remember talking to the first responders as they strapped me to the gurney. One of the loneliest, longest rides of my life was that day on 3/11/2017 on my way to the hospital.

 

What began as a day of excitement and anticipation turned in to a fight for our lives. I remember the surrealness of the entire experience. Is this really happening? This was the first car wreck I had ever been in. I remember having the very real thought that I was going to die. The thought was so real in fact that I prayed repeatedly that if Jesus was bringing me home that I was truly forgiven and free for every sin and failure.

 

As we pulled up to the hospital the doctors and nurses met us at the door. I was immediately rushed in to the operating room. The doctors began to speak with me as they cut my clothes off and began prepping me for surgery. In the chaos of that moment a chaplain from the hospital came in…

 

“Daniel, I have your wife’s phone. Do you know her lock code?” the chaplain asked. I remember giving him the lock code and him asking if there was anyone he should call to tell about the wreck. I could tell from the somber tone in his voice that things were far worse than I realized. “Call my mother-in-law” I said, “her name is Kathy”. A few moments later the chaplain had me speak to her on speakerphone. I will never forget what I thought may be my last words: “If I’ve caused any one any pain, please tell them I said please forgive me. I love you.”

 

I remember asking the chaplain, “do you believe in Jesus?” After him confirming that he in fact did believe in Jesus, I asked him to say a prayer over me in Jesus name. After the prayer, everything went dark.

 

I would find out later that over the next few hours and days that the doctors told my family to prepare for my death. Breaking over 9 ribs, both scapula (shoulders), ripping my aorta, collapsed lungs and more left me fighting for my life.

 

In today’s devotion I want to remind you that God is fully in control. The doctors don’t have the last word. Where God is moving, nothing is too hard for Him. He loves us intimately and we can trust that He is using all things (even unimaginable tragedy) for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

 

First we are going to read several Scriptures that remind us as Christians of the blessed assurance we have through faith in Jesus. Scriptures like John 8:36 where Jesus reminds us that in Him we are truly free. Scriptures like John 3:16 that remind us that God loves us so much that if we place our faith in Jesus we will have eternal life. (John 8:36, John 3:16)

 

Second we will look at Scriptures that remind us doctors don’t have the final word (Jesus is the Great Physician). We still look at Scriptures that remind us that nothing is impossible with God. We will look at the Scriptures that remind us that God is faithful, His love is unfailing, and that we can place our hope and trust in Him. (Mark 9:23, 24)

 

Today’s prayer:

Lord, there are days where we confess we feel alone. There are moments where we cry out and it seems like you are silent or that you don’t care. Today we ask that you would forgive us when we doubt. We believe Lord! Help our unbelief. Strengthen us with Your presence. When we aren’t strong enough to walk another step, carry us. Thank you Lord that we won’t face a step alone, in Jesus name.