On December 17, 2011, my husband and I were involved in a near-fatal, head-on collision with a drunk driver. In a split second, our lives changed forever. We were suddenly faced with a trial of suffering neither of us expected or were ready to face, but God ordained it in His sovereignty.
The severity of the accident brought the coroner to the scene. No one expected me to live; however, that night was not the night for my home-going. Instead, God had a journey planned for me. The journey brought physical and spiritual brokenness, and through it, I came to know a God who, despite my failings, is faithful, gracious, and loving.
Psalm 23:4a promises, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me. . .” I never knew the comfort this verse could bring until God sovereignly placed this dark valley to walk through.
I spent the next eight days fighting for my life on life support. I had fourteen different fractured bones, including two crushed limbs that would possibly need an amputation. Even from the beginning, God’s hand was evident as He protected my spine, internal organs, and brain from significant injury. He brought a peace that surpasses all understanding to my hospital room, that even the doctors noticed. He also sovereignly orchestrated my medical care by providing surgeons who would be able to salvage my limbs.
Over the next few months, I experienced more physical and emotional pain than I can ever fully describe. I faced losing my lifelong dream of becoming a nurse practitioner, losing my leg, and possibly losing the use of my left arm. I was wheelchair bound for nearly a year, and at times, I wondered if I would ever walk again. However, it was through these difficult struggles that I came to know my Savior in a real way. He gave me unexplainable peace, graciously bestowed blessings in my spiritual weakness, and reminded me that in the midst of my trial, He was accomplishing His purpose in me. Jeremiah 29:11 became my verse of encouragement as I passed through the valley. It says, “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” I claimed this verse as it was a good reminder that God only allowed what was good for me through this suffering, and He had a plan that He was accomplishing through it.
Looking back over those few years of my life and remembering the excruciating times my husband and I went through, I recall again the Psalms 23 passage. Having literally and figuratively walked through a “valley of the shadow of death”, I can say with full assurance that I have experienced the truth of Psalms 23:4. He was with me, He comforted me, and He never forsook me. My valley reminded me of how good and comforting it is to have the Lord as my Shepherd.
Even in our suffering, or perhaps, especially through our suffering, God is perfecting us and accomplishing His perfect plan. This is why Jeremiah 29:11 is such an encouragement to me. It reminds me that even though it may not always seem like it, God intends only good towards us and not evil. He also gives us His Word, which comforts and encourages us through these “valleys”—reminding us that He is our watchful Shepherd who leads, comforts, and provides for his sheep.
Guest writer, Julie McClure, found physical, emotional, and spiritual healing after a near-death experience. In her journey through suffering, she found peace and renewed her relationship with Jesus Christ. She also found beauty in the scars and strength to carry on and live her life for Christ. You can read more about her journey in her book, Broken But Beautiful.
What does the Bible teach about suffering? If you have questions regarding this topic, I invite you to download the 4-week Bible study: “Biblical Truths About Suffering”