Cupcakes and Rainbows – Life After Tragedy – Day 7

Day 7 – The Road to Recovery

I can still see my son’s 8 year old face on the screen as we looked at each other on video chat. Because I was still on a ventilator and couldn’t talk, and because he was still learning to talk again, all we could do was look at each other. I remember hearing my son’s cry of fear as if he were saying “where are you?” I can remember trying to look calm and strong as I brushed my fingers across the screen (imaging I was stroking his face).

 

Kasen fractured his skull during the wreck, broke his femur, and experienced a stroke and other things as a result of the wreck and his recovery. During his recovery he had to learn to talk, walk, and even swallow again.

 

My road to true recovery began one day after I found out about the death of my wife and daughter. Unable to talk, write, or type due to the nerve damage in my hands, I was only able to sign to my nurses. I remember one nurse specifically who was able to read my sign language, luckily I learned a bit in high school (only letters). I signed to her “I want to die…” her response was immediate and shocked me back to reality.

 

“Daniel!” she said sternly, “what about Kasen! He needs you!” Thinking about her reminder still makes me extremely emotional. In that moment I knew I had to live. Although I knew my life would be radically different, I knew I had to go on. I had to honor my wife and daughter. I had to take care of my son. I had to live.

 

Although the next few years have been filled with trails during our recovery, God has been faithful. He has and continues to bring us through every moment.

 

I don’t know where you are today. I don’t know what pain and suffering you are experiencing. I don’t know the depth of your despair or the overwhelming hopelessness you may be facing. What I do know is that you don’t have to face a step alone. Although you may still not see it yet, God has a purpose. There is still work for you to do here.

 

Although you can’t see it yet, there is life after this painful trail. I promise that the sun will rise again in your life, if you will place every faith, trust, hope, and broken part of you in the hands of the God who loves you and knows you.

 

Today, although the pain of being without Brynleigh stays near, God has began putting the pieces back together. After recovering from the wreck, I went on to marry my high school sweet heart and she has been a joy in my life. God has given me another daughter and a new son, and together Kasen and our new family are walking where God takes us.

 

First remember that the road to recovery is to be taken one day at a time. Scripture reminds us that the worries of today are sufficient (Matthew 6:34). Scripture reminds us that just as God provides for the birds of the air, He will provide for us (Matthew 6:26-27).

 

Second Jesus encourages us if we are weary and burdened to “come” (Matthew 11:28). Jesus reminds us that this life is not the end of the story (John 11:17-41). Jesus reminds us that he is always with us (Matthew 28:20).

 

Today’s Prayer: Lord, thank you. Thank you for who you are. Thank you that nothing in this world can change your goodness and love. Thank you that nothing can separate us from your love through Jesus. Thank you that there will be a day where we see your face and in that place we will live free from death, pain, hunger, and all the sufferings of this world. Please fill our hearts with joy. Please help us truly heal and continue to grow with you. We love you and thank you that your going to finish the good work you’ve started in us, in Jesus name.

 

Conclusion

After every moment of suffering, every tear, every angry prayer, I have come to know the love that has been described as being “closer than a brother”. So much more than the most loving friend, God has patiently and tenderly ministered to my broken heart. He has patiently endured many nights of desperation and weeping and help me as I screamed in my despair.

 

As you move on from this moment, this isn’t the end of the story. Just as your grief or tragedy isn’t the end of the story, each step you take honors those you love. The sun will shine again. You will laugh again. You will love again. By the power of God’s Word and by trusting in His promises, you can find peace even if God doesn’t give you an answer for your heartbreak.

 

To those who have made it through this devotion, find a church where men and women love Jesus and love you. Press in to your pain and don’t hide from it. Don’t ignore it or pretend like it isn’t happening. Cry when you need to cry. Yell when you need to yell. But no matter what you do, pray and study God’s Word.

 

To anyone who hasn’t understood it yet, I’ll say it plainly: without the mercy and grace of Jesus I would have never left the hospital. Without God’s continued provision and kindness, I would have never survived after leaving the hospital. Without God’s tender love, I wouldn’t be sitting here over two years later married to my best friend with a daughter on the way.

 

Never forget: Jesus alone can restore, redeem, and rebuild. Cry out to Him now and trust that He not only hears you, but if you pray in faith and truly seek Him, you will find Him. My prayer for you today is that God would comfort and strengthen you. God bless you continually and always.

Cupcakes and Rainbows – Life After Tragedy – Day 6

Day 6 – Get Away From Me

Throughout my time in the hospital(s), I had Christian men and women come to pray for and with me. People I had never met, hospital chaplains, deacons of local churches I had never attended, friends and family, people spiritually covered my life in prayer. As a follower of Christ, you may have thought I happily embraced these visits… I didn’t.

 

Repeatedly I waived men and women out of my room. I refused to pray with them. My despair turned to a feeling of defeat. You know, even though I waived these people out of my room… they continued to show me compassion, love, and empathy.

 

Looking back, I can see God using every prayer, every donation, every song, every kind thought of my Christian brothers and sisters to testify about the truth and love of Jesus. Before the wreck I can remember praying over and over for my older brother to come back to his faith. Months after the wreck, he would tell me that God used the wreck, specifically how the church showered us with love and support, to bring him back to his faith.

 

Thinking about it now, I guess I wanted to suffer in isolation and silence and then I wanted to be angry that I was alone and didn’t have any one to talk to. I think more than anything I was angry at God and every person who came to me in his name I wanted to ignore. I knew the truths they were sharing but at that exact moment, those truths hurt me even more.

 

Although I may never get to tell the men and women who relentlessly prayed and visited me, thank you, I am thankful for all they did. I wonder if in your grief, you are doing what I did. Pushing your church family away. Ignoring the calls and texts from your Christian friends. It’s interesting that in our suffering we always think our situation is unique and no one can understand…

 

First today I want you to remember Scripture tells us to bare one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), you don’t have to do this alone. The church is a community and partly it is through the love of our brothers and sisters in Christ that God comforts and strengthens us. Scripture tells us to grieve with those who grieve (Romans 12:15). Don’t do what I did, but if you have been, stop. Time and time again we pray for a miracle or a word from God to comfort our hearts but then we refuse to hear our fellow servants speak. Let others hurt with you, don’t grieve alone.

 

Second I want to remind you as C. S. Lewis once wrote: Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. Right now the pain, grief, and despair are so loud that you may not hear God calling, but trust that He is. God not only knows about your pain, but as the Psalmist says: he “collects our tears in a bottle” (Psalm 56:8).

 

Today’s Prayer: Lord, we confess that sometimes we resist the help you want to give us. Lord we send away those you send to comfort us and pray with us, the pain blinds us and makes us numb. Please keep sending faithful men and women to minister to us, even when we send them away. Please break down the walls we’ve built around our grief and suffering. Let us help others bare this spiritual burden Lord. More than anything, please help us bare it. Today we pray you would give us strength to pickup our cross and follow you, in Jesus name.

Cupcakes and Rainbows – Life After Tragedy – Day 5

Day 5 – The Lord Gives and the Lord Takes Away

 March 11th 2017 was the day that my life changed forever. On that day I experienced the most devastating loss of my life. On March 27th 2017, sixteen days after the initial wreck, things went from bad to worse. I can still remember the moment like it was yesterday…

 

“Daniel I need to tell you something…”, my younger brother was standing beside my bed. Still unable to speak but becoming more aware of the devastation caused by the wreck, I knew something was wrong. “Daniel, Brynleigh and Cassie have passed away. I’m so sorry”. I have never had a more helpless feeling than I did in that moment. Unable to walk, talk, move, or protect those who meant the most to me.

 

I remember closing my eyes and motioning for everyone to leave my room. Not being able to fully cry because of the constant inflation and deflation of my lungs caused by the machine that was breathing for me, was harder than you can imagine. I can clearly remember at my lowest moment, I wanted to die. I tried to stop breathing and if God would have given me the option, I would have given up.

 

I remember reading the story of Job several times throughout my life. As I read through the unthinkable suffering and loss that Job suffered through, at the time I could have never imagined that suffering. I remember being able to finally use a smartphone to communicate again, even while still hooked up to all the machines.

 

I remember posting: “The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” When I posted this it was an attempt to let the world know: I may be down and broken. I may be hurting and suffering. I may be experiencing the worst moments of my life, but I still trust God.

 

I want to be honest with you, the next few days, weeks and months would truly challenge my trust of God. Years later, there are still days where I struggle. I have heard people say that you should never question God. If that is true, I confess that I am guilty. I am thankful that the God I serve is big enough to not be affected by my anger, doubt, and He is patient enough to answer my questions.

 

First today I want you to know that because God created us, He is fully aware of our emotions, thoughts, and needs. Scripture reminds us that God is all knowing, all powerful, and present. Because of His divine attributes, we can rest assured that God is fully able to sustain us, answer our questions, and give us peace in the most violent storm. Jesus promised a Helper (John 16:7) and it is that Helper (the Holy Spirit) that fills the heart of every person who places their hope and trust in Jesus and helps them in their most desperate need.

 

Second I need to remind you that Jesus never promised life would be all “Cupcakes and Rainbows” (John 16:33). This is an important reminder because I have found that the Bible alone fully understands, explains, and reveals my heart and life.

 

Today’s Prayer: Jesus, we know that you promised we would have tribulation in the world. Today we confess that the tribulation has overwhelmed us. We need you to remind us that you have overcome the world. Let the truth that since you live we will also live remind us that this storm will pass. Lord, we can’t see it right now. Help us even when we can’t see how the pain will ever go away to know that you make all things new. Help us to continue feeling you as we seek the healing we know only you can give, in Jesus name.