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.

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.