REFLECTIONS ON SUFFERING
by Carla Link
Joey and I were in a horrific car accident several years ago. A man fell asleep at the wheel of his car and pushed us over a guard rail when he hit us. Our van overturned three times, and although I was wearing a seat-belt, I was thrown from the vehicle. I suffered massive injuries, including a broken neck and crushed spine. I had 23 hemorrhages in my brain, and my family was told I would be a vegetable the rest of my life. During my 3 months in the hospital, I woke up one morning and knew who I was. Tests showed my brain was completely healed! I now know what a miracle truly is.
However, I must wear three braces to walk and use a walker, as I cannot stand without holding on to something. I sleep in the living room as there is not a place to put an elevator or lift in our home and I can’t go upstairs. I suffer constant pain from a nerve injury that will never heal on its own. God chose to heal my brain, but He did not choose to heal much of the brokenness in my body. I now understand when He says, “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good…” (Romans 8:28), God means for our eternal good, not our earthly good. Having limited mobility and devastating pain is for my eternal good and I accept that.
When Christians ask my why God allowed this to happen to us, I tell them that He didn’t allow it, He planned it. We were on that specific highway while driving home from teaching at a family camp at that specific time because it was part of God’s plan for us. Then I ask them, “Why not us?” The Bible clearly states Christians will go through tests and suffering (James 1:2-4), and that when we do we are to count it as joy. Why do Christians think we should be immune to it? And why do Christians think God is cursing them when we are told to count it as joy?
When people ask me how I can be so positive when I face the difficulties I live with every day, I ask them if I should lie in bed and moan and groan all day, or would it be better if I get up, put a smile on my face and do what God is asking of me that day? There is nothing in our lives we cannot do with excellence of character. In all things we are to reflect the glory of God, including sweeping the kitchen floor while sitting in a wheelchair. When people ask me if it is hard not to be able to do the things I could do before the accident, I tell them that I choose to focus on what I have and what I can do, not on what I no longer have and on what I can’t do.
When people ask me if it bothers me I have gained weight since the accident, I tell them that I would be a whole lot more bothered if I stopped taking the medications that are causing the weight gain. When Christian ask me what un-confessed sin I have in my life which God is punishing me for, I let them know I am so relieved their lives are in a constant state of confessed sin or they should be afraid to get in their cars and drive home. I tell them God looks at the heart and my heart is not disabled.
People do not understand what it is like to live life differently than most, and I remind myself of this all the time. They have needs and I have needs. Our needs look different, but they are still needs. People have pain and I have pain. Our pain feels different, but it is still pain.
No matter what your pain is, the ONLY way to deal with it is to get on your knees and let God know you cannot live one minute of a day without Him. All God wants of us is to recognize our often desperate need of Him. To God be the Glory.