Before I knew what was happening, it was over. A horrific crunch. Searing pain. I dug my fingernails into the steering wheel and closed my eyes, trying to focus on my breathing. In. Out. Slower. In. Out. SLOWER! It wasn’t helping and I was about to hyperventilate.
A knock on the window nearly broke my tentative grip on sanity. “Ma’am? Ma’am? Are you okay? Should I call an ambulance?”
I opened the door and the stranger stood there, in the dark, with the rain pouring over him and into the car. Instinctively, I looked at the place of my pain. My right foot was mangled. Oh, God!
I was too shaken to speak. The stranger’s head ducked as he tried to see my foot.
“Ma’am, I’m calling 9-1-1 right now. Let’s close your door and keep you dry.”
Waiting for the ambulance, I had one clear thought: elevate the injured foot. I turned and pulled my leg up onto the seat next to me, careful not to let the foot touch anything. Pain worse than any I’d ever known pressed in on me. I closed my eyes and rocked in my seat. Nausea threatened to overwhelm me as I prayed the only words I could find: Oh God Oh God Oh God…
Through the ambulance ride and the wait in the wheelchair at the ER, I sat wet, cold, and shaking so hard that my teeth chattered. My parents made it to the hospital in time for my Dad to help hold me down while the doctor snapped my dislocated bones back into place. Only after my second shot of painkillers did my mind begin to thaw enough to form words. I wasn’t proud of the thoughts, but they were sincere.
Why did You let this happen to me, God? Where were You? How could You let this happen to me? I thought You were supposed to be protecting me. If I can’t trust You with this, what can I trust You with?
Weeks later, as I hopped around on my slowly-healing foot, the fear, the doubt, and the questions remained. I was so ashamed of myself for questioning God. He’s GOD—Who am I to question Him? I went to church, to work, and stayed busy—all the time, holding my finger up to God, saying, “Just a minute, God. Just a minute.” But I would never quite slow down enough to have a conversation with Him.
After several weeks passed, I was sitting at home one Sunday evening, feeling like everything in the world was wrong. My foot was hurting, but so was my heart. I was having nightmares. My emotions were upside down and I felt completely lost. I sat down with my little journal and wrote: “Lord, I’m a wreck. I know that I’m running from You. But I can’t live in fear anymore.”
And because God was standing there waiting for me, He had His answers ready.
There are some things that God does and/or allows that are easy to understand. But sometimes, it doesn’t work that way. At the times that things are hard or scary or bad or difficult to understand, I can come to Him and be honest with Him about how I feel. In that relationship, He’ll give me what I need to make it through, whether it’s the answer or just peace over the situation.
Nearly a year after the accident, I sat in the foot and ankle injury specialist’s office and listened as he explained to me how the emergency room had treated my injury incorrectly. He explained that I would simply have to learn how to live with the pain. (“After all, Miss Salter, now that you’ve passed thirty, your body just doesn’t heal like you’re a teenager anymore.”) I walked out of his office that day, disgusted. I sat in my car and said, “Lord, that just doesn’t make any sense. I don’t think I can accept this.” It wasn’t a formal “Heal Me” type prayer, but God must have heard me, because within a matter of weeks, I was pain-free and have been pain-free ever since.
In the two and half years since my accident, God has reinforced to me over and over again that if find myself in any situation, then He will protect me there, even if it’s not in a way that I understand. When I’m scared, if I simply turn to Him and cry out from wherever I am, His Presence will find me there and will comfort me through it. And when it’s all over, I’ll find that I’m closer to Him than I ever was before.
Romans 5:3-5 says, “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”