For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.Colossians 1:16 (ESV)
As I laid in my rented hospital bed in my living room, I tuned into the rustling of leaves, the crackle of them hitting the window screen and the occasional crunch of shoes trampling them on the sidewalk.
Just a few days earlier, those were my shoes crunching leaves, but while carrying an overfilled laundry basket, I stepped on a stair at just the wrong angle. Just one step and just slightly wrong. That misstep changed my life.
Not only was my ankle broken severely in multiple places, it was shattered in another, dislocated, and unstable with a bone threatening to break through the skin. “Severely deformed,” the emergency department report read. Two immediate emergency department hallway procedures later, and a surgery the following day to reconstruct my ankle with screws, plates, and pins, I was sent home to begin a long recovery process.
Like so many other believers in times of strife, God used this accident to grow me spiritually, encourage a new level of reliance on Him and to show me that He had already made everything I needed to heal. And he called it all good.
The Early Days: He Provides People
Early recovery meant no stairs and living on the main floor of my home in a rented hospital bed where I slept and worked off surgery all while managing my pain and figuring out the logistics of my new life. An occupational therapist and a physical therapist visited every few days. My saint of a mother happened to be visiting our family from Florida when I fell. (Can you say divine providence?) Instead of staying four days, she stayed two months to care for me and my family while I was laid up.
God knew. He knew our plans, he knew our schedules, he knew my needs as a parent and as a patient. He provided a neighborhood full of helpful and selfless souls that provided meals, laughs, childcare and hospital visits.
God knew. In an emergency surgery situation the on-call surgeon is chosen for you. But that night, the orthopedic surgeon on-call happened to be one that is kind and funny, and a joint reconstruction specialist. The person who would become my long-time physical therapist happened to be the perfect combination of a cheerleader who had high expectations of me while also providing the structure I needed. It was that very combination that helped me want to do everything I could to recover.
He created man to commune with and provide for one another, and he called it good.
The Mental Game: He Provides Creation
Image: Joshua Cotten
Fall and winter are my favorite times of year even though most people despise the chill in the air. My accident happened a few days before Halloween, forcing me to miss that fun night, but also all the Fall activities. There was no assurance I’d be able to go anywhere to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas – two of my favorite days of the year. More than almost anything, I grieved the holiday season and what I’d miss.
But God had already created everything I needed to get through a challenging – and occasionally dark – time. While there were times when I would work on my laptop from that hospital bed wondering if I’d walk without a limp, pain, or a cane, and the sadness of missing the Fall season crept in, he gave me fall birds.
Fall birds? Don’t birds nest and chirp like mad in the Spring? They do. Except for a set of mourning doves that made a home – in November – in the tree outside my main floor window. They cooed and cooed in a way that previously would have annoyed me. But they were part of my lifeline to the crisp air I craved even though I couldn’t walk outside.
He gave me a temperature just warm enough to be able to crack the window next to my bed and feel the air on my face and my arms. No, I couldn’t experience the breeze at my favorite apple orchard or pumpkin patch – it was not in the cards. But I could hear the neighborhood and the rustle of the trees and feel the breeze just enough to satisfy my seasonal cravings.
The Treatment: He Provides Science
Orthotic technician making cast. Image: thisisengineering
Part of me feels like I should be uncomfortable writing about faith and science in the same breath, but the reality is God created the science that is healing me. These two things – my faith and the science healing me – exist together, and both are good.
Through the first few months of recovery especially, even when many would say there was little to be grateful for – I lost time, memories, finances, any modicum of modesty and dignity – I found myself praising my Lord for all the materials he created that could be mixed, made into potions, experimented on, taught, learned, and applied to my body. I spent hours during these months thanking God for the ways He provided His creation and His people to also work together to create even more goodness in the way of modern medicine.
I thanked Him for my surgeon’s hands – steady, studied, and confident. I thanked Him for my nurses – their sixth sense of knowing needs before they are known by the patient. I thanked Him for minerals and vitamins and compounds – those creations communed with His people to help prevent infection, modulate my pain, repair nerves, prevent blood clots from surgery. I thanked Him for water and fibers and metals – they made my plaster casts, they were woven together and applied as bandages, they were titanium holding my bones together and became staples and stitches that held incision sites closed.
I thanked Him for providing us bodies that repair themselves with assistance and that our bodies know in what ways to heal.
And then, I lamented. I lamented my arrogance in insisting that these things – my faith in a sovereign God and my trust in medical and scientific outcomes – existed separately and sometimes even in a combative posture with each other for so long.
I lamented my lack of understanding that He created it all and it is all good. The chemicals and metals and compounds and modern medicine was created by Him and they are just as good as the people and leaves and mourning doves.
It is all His and it all exists together, and it is all good.