As I lay in the hospital bed, I could not help but think, “Will I ever be able to use my hand and leg again?” When the doctors checked for feeling, I could feel the pressure of the needle but my body would not react to its force. Depression began to worm its way into my psyche. The doctor had told me that I would probably get most of my motion back but could not guarantee it.
After my release from the hospital, I continued to drag my right leg and watch as my right arm flapped in the wind. Depression continued its work. I began to wonder what life would be like with one less arm and one less leg. No matter what happened, my arm and leg would be a reminder of my stupidity that fateful night, the night I was hit over the head with a hammer. During my internal battle of and sorrow of “Why me” syndrome, I was reminded of my past.
When I was younger, I had made fun of people with physical disabilities. It wasn’t because I enjoyed it, but rather to hide the pain inside of me for being different than other kids. Instead of feeling compassion, I was a fighter. I physically fought others for many years. In my mind, if I made fun of others for their problems, mine would just go away. However, I was so wrong about that. Here I was, disabled, possibly permanently and began to understand the hurt and pain I once caused in others.
It was then I decided to plead with God. I asked Him to give me back my leg so that I wouldn’t have to drag it everywhere, but if He felt I didn’t need my hand or arm, He could keep that. Although I continued to fight the depression and anxiety of PTSD, I also knew that God would answer me, even if it wasn’t what I wanted.
The very next morning, I got up out of bed and realized something incredible. I didn’t have to drag my leg anymore! My prayer had been answered. I was able to skip, hop, jump and walk like I did before my “accident”. God had given me back my leg. My hand and arm were a different story.
As time went on, I went to physical and occupational therapy for my arm and hand. Today, I have full motion of my arm and most of the motion in my hand. It was in this very situation, God taught me “I survived and lived to grow.”
Most of us survivors will wonder and ask the ‘why me’ question. Why did I survive? Why didn’t God take me? Almost always the ‘why me’ question is not one of selfishness or pride, rather it is a way which we express our desire to grow. We want to grow. We want to become better than we were before.
Psalm 1 shares this very thought of living to grow:
Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
Have you ever gone camping and looked at a tree that grows next to a river? Usually, the root structure is deep, the tree is properly nourished and if it is a fruit bearing tree, the tree has good juicy fruit. If you look into the reason why, it is because of its deep roots. The deeper the roots of a tree grow, the more likely it will withstand the hurricane force winds when the storm comes.
The same is true for us. When we survive tragic events, if we have shallow roots, we will sway with every emotional thought that crosses our mind. If our roots are deeper, we may falter with our emotions for a short time, but ultimately, we will stand tall once again after the storm is done. We do not survive because we have deep roots, we survived so that God can teach us something and make us grow.
Just as the Psalmist stated, if we do what is right, if we avoid sin and if we read and study His word, our roots will grow deeper and our lives will become healthier. This doesn’t mean we will heal physically completely, but it does mean that our mental and emotional state will be better because we have grown to trust in the Lord. When we trust in Him, our lives will prosper.
When you have an opportunity, read Psalm 1 but also read Psalm 116. The writer of Psalm 116 clearly shows how focus on the Lord is the very reason why we survive. Below is an excerpt from Psalm 116…
I love the Lord, because He has heard
My voice and my supplications.
2 Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.
3 The pains of death surrounded me,
And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me;
I found trouble and sorrow.
4 Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!”
When God spoke with Jeremiah, he stated the following in Jeremiah 26:11 (NASB):
“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
God never intends for us to continue to suffer in the midst of our tragedies. God intends for us to grow from our situations and grow closer to Him. God does not intend to hurt us, in fact just the opposite. God wants us to understand that He has a plan for us. It is a plan to allow us to grow, bear fruit and help others with similar situations. Growth is not something we do, rather it is the result of our relationship with God. When we get closer to Him, we grow. When we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, we grow. When we read, study and pray, we grow. When we let go of the feelings and emotions that keep us slaves to our situations, we grow.
Our lives have a purpose. God desires for us to walk with Him toward His plan for our lives. The question becomes what we will do with what we have been given. As survivors, we have a unique opportunity to positively affect others through our growth. We can express our compassion, explain our lessons and encourage others to continue to fight in this battle of survival.
Recently, the subject of growth has come up again. Over the last few weeks, our church has seen two of our oldest trees collapse from wind and rain. In both situations, little to no damage occurred but one of our Elders noticed something. He stated that both trees didn’t have a good root structure. Their roots were too shallow. If the trees had deeper roots, then the tree would not have fallen.
The same holds true for us. As we grow from our situation and grow toward God, we will discover at one time our roots may have been shallow, but now they begin to grow deeper toward the nourishment that God provides. However, if we reject this growth, if we reject His plan for prospering us, we will end up like the fallen trees with shallow roots. On the outside, we will appear healthy, but because our roots are shallow, our lives will fall and potentially hurt others.
If we grow in our relationship with God and move our lives closer to Him, He will give us water and nourishment which will make our roots grow deeper so that when tragic events occur, we will be able to withstand the storm. The question becomes what will you do next? Will you allow your tragic event to become a crutch toward depression or will you grow from it so that God can show His love toward others who are suffering the same way? It’s your decision. What will you do?
To hear what our pastor shared with us concerning growth, just use the link below:
God bless and encourage someone today.