As I sat at my computer pondering how to begin a chapter of my book on dietary and spiritual supplements, I asked the Holy Spirit for help and He came through with flying colors. He reminded me of the tremendous support my cousin, Dena, and her family received after her daughter, Hannah’s, tragic car wreck. I realized that would be a meaningful way to begin, but I needed a little refresher on the details. I went to a website that had been established shortly after the accident and there at the top of the page was the date of the accident. I couldn’t believe it. Surely not! I checked my phone for that day’s date and sure enough the dates were the same! You can’t get much better confirmation than that.
It’s been seven years since that flurry of phone calls informing family and friends of the need for prayer on Hannah’s behalf. It all began as she and a friend were on their way to drop her brother off at baseball practice. Due to rain, the practice was being held in a large building unfamiliar to all of them. As they drove around the neighborhood, they all kept their eyes peeled for signs of practice. As they continued looking, Hannah missed seeing a stop sign and her car was broadsided on the driver’s side, causing all three to become unconscious. They were rushed to a local hospital where it was discovered Hannah’s brother and friend had suffered a concussion, but Hannah’s head trauma was much more serious. She was sent to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama for further tests and treatment. That is when the full power of God’s love was unleashed through the arms of the church.
Dena and her husband, Jack, have five children. Staying in Birmingham with Hannah, the oldest, meant the troops at home had to be rallied. The day of the accident Dena’s parents had packed their bags to head to the beach the following morning, but, Dena’s mom says, “God was having us pack our bags to go to Dena’s instead of the beach. We just didn’t know it.” When Jack’s call came they were already packed and able to leave immediately. Friends went with Jack and Dena to Children’s Hospital while others provided food and helped with the other four children at home. Hannah would spend two months at Children’s and be discharged a much different girl than before the wreck. She would need constant care. Interaction with Hannah had changed forever.
The most precious memory for me during this whole ordeal was the day Ron and I stood in the waiting room just days after Hannah had arrived in Birmingham. Dena has always held a special place in my heart, mostly because I know how special God is to her heart. As we waited, I wondered what we should expect. What would I say? What could I say? I couldn’t imagine being in her shoes. Just then, Jack and Dena walked in. They were worn to a frazzle, but managed sincere smiles. Dena was clutching her Bible across her chest. Hers was not the sit-on-the-coffee-table-collecting-dust kind of Bible. It was the well-worn, dog-eared, notes-sticking-out-all-sides version. She clung to its words as tightly with her heart as she did her arms. It was her comfort, her shield and her truth. Maybe she didn’t realize it then, but these were the days that were refining her and preparing her to share that truth with others in a mightier way than ever before. I love how God takes what Satan meant as harm and turns it into His glory.
While we may look at the change in Hannah as tragic, I believe God sees it as a way of showing His love and comfort to the thousands who have been touched by this story. The outpouring of love for this sweet family had been enormous. Hannah’s teenage friends asked to have a prayer service for Hannah after she returned home. They packed the sanctuary. A band of ladies known as the laundry angels would, for over a year, anonymously pick up the children’s laundry from baskets by the back door and return it washed and folded. Another group of ladies spent Sunday afternoons gathered around one of Hannah’s blankets praying for her and her family. Others would take turns cleaning the house, sitting with Hannah, and providing an occasional night out for Jack and Dena. I don’t know the names or faces of any of these wonderful people, but I know who does. I know He sent them to be a light and their light has shown through the darkness to countless people, like me, who yearn to see evidence of God’s hand at work.