On January 20th I had a nasty car accident, crashing with another car in a head-on collision. This was of course not a nice experience. And yet I also see the reality of God’s amazing goodness to me in it all. This raises the inevitable questions which must relate to all experiences of suffering or deep disappointment. If God was watching over me and even knew in advance that I would have this accident, why did he not prevent it happening? What is God’s overarching purpose in this experience? What therefore can I learn from it? And how does he want me to behave in it all? Can an accident be reconciled with our belief in God’s loving grace and goodness to us?
Blinded and disorientated by an unusually bright undimmed headlight I strayed onto the wrong side of the road on a bend. As a result I had a head-on crash with the front car in a line of cars coming in the opposite direction. Happily he seems to have been unhurt, but I suffered considerable damage to my rib-cage which was painful and made me dependent on Elizabeth’s help for every movement. For some ten days I had bouts of shivering cold shock. And our car was a write-off.
Was this the will of our loving Father? He is sovereignly in control of all things and promises to watch over us and care for us. How does pain, shock and the loss of our car fit into his purposes?
In this whole experience the grace of God has been very evident.
I was on my way home from a routine hospital check-up. Normally Elizabeth accompanies me to such appointments, but this seemed very routine and we agreed that I should go alone this time. So she was spared. The passenger side of the car was more severely damaged than the driver’s side, so she would have been quite badly hurt if she had been with me. Because she was spared, she could also look after me. The ambulance men kindly picked her up on our way to the hospital. So she was able to be with me right from early on. And then to care for me when I came home from one night in the hospital. Praise God!
I could have been much more severely hurt, but wonderfully it seems there are no long-term injuries. And I am already well on the road to recovery after just 2-3 weeks. The pain is considerably reduced, mobility well up, strength returning, the shivering cold of shock has gone. Praise God!
It is traditional for older men to admire their beautiful nurses! And I have been full of gratitude and admiration for my beautiful nurse – Elizabeth! What a joy and privilege it is to be loved and to love! It is wonderful to share everything with someone one has loved for 55 years. Our children have also been so loving and good. Andrew drove out immediately to be with Elizabeth and me in the hospital on the evening of the accident – such a comfort, help and strength. And he stayed with us until 3 a.m.! We have also been very appreciative of our local doctor and a doctor friend in our church – so helpful. And we are surrounded by caring friends and people in our church who are so willing to help in any way needed – and being temporarily without a car makes us dependent on others’ help too. So many people have also sent cards and told us how they have been praying for us in this experience.At times like this one’s heart is warmed by the love, care and help which is lavished upon us by one’s family and friends.
We had already noticed that the month of February had no speaking engagements in our diary at all. We had wondered what the Lord had in mind for this time and had thought perhaps I needed to get down to writing again, but I felt no inclination in this direction. God obviously had it in his mind that I should have the whole month quietly without pressure to recover and regain strength before getting back to active ministry. There were two fixtures immediately after the accident, but in both cases they were quite happy to postpone the meetings and think in terms of another date later. They were so gracious in this and we are grateful.
Where is God?
Of course as human beings we are not immune from the normal sufferings and accidents of our fallen world. Indeed we follow a suffering Saviour who did not come to earth in a heavenly space-suit with an oxygen tube up to heaven. He breathed the contaminated air of this world. He suffered with us as well as for us. And it is in pain and suffering that we have special fellowship with Jesus, our suffering servant Lord.
But in every situation we can also see the gracious hand of our loving Father who cares for us. He overrules the evils of this world and works all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8.28). Praise God!
Even before the accident I knew of course that I have a wonderful wife, brilliantly loving children and grandchildren, close-knit friendships with our local Christian sisters and brothers, and so many good friends all over the world. But this experience has underlined and reinforced each of these relationships. Praise God!