Years ago, after our first two years in Italy, we went stateside for our first one-month furlough. Which, because we also had unpaid debts to settle, stretched into a year and a half. Mario got a job with a tree-trimming service, and things didn’t quite go according to plan… because of his life-threatening encounter with a chainsaw.
Let’s just say that trying to shave with a 60 cm (24 inch) chainsaw is not a good idea, and he has the scars to prove it! A few on his cheek and a huge one on his neck and chest, which cause considerable staring during our rare swims.
That saw bounced back after hitting metal, chewing his face and neck up. But as he often says, it just wasn’t his time yet.
They were already operating when I reached the hospital, where I found our pastors and other church friends waiting to embrace me. And it was a blessing beyond compare to not have to wait there alone.
Our pastor hesitatingly explained what the doctors had already said. Apparently worried I would collapse under the shock, he peered at me asking, “Did you understand? He might not make it, or could remain paralyzed for life.”
But God had given me that peace which passes all understanding.
Sure, it was a shock. A big one. I was concerned he might die and did briefly wonder what the children and I would do without him. Thirty two is pretty young to become a widow.
But my over-riding thought was, “God is in control. Come what may, he is in control. He will see us through.” And he did.
When it was all over, we were able to look back and see how many things showed that he was in control.
- A coworker who remained cool-headed, and saved his life by applying pressure until the paramedics arrived.
- 911 sent a helicopter, not an ambulance as they usually do.
- The chain saw happened to miss his eye by about an inch.
- And it missed the main neck artery by half an inch, which the doctor said would have caused death in less than a minute.
- The best neurosurgeon in the entire area around Greeley, Colorado just happened to be on duty.
- The surgeon was a Christian who prayed before, during, and after the surgery. God was guiding his hands.
- The nerves eventually grew and mended themselves. Something the doctor would not guarantee, saying only “Nerves do sometimes grow together again, but they were pretty chewed up.”
- His arm was paralyzed for about 4 months, but eventually healed almost completely.
To avoid the risk of making myself seem like some kind of super saint, I did break down after it was all over. The relief and joy of seeing him alive washed over me, and I started crying. He kept saying, “Don’t cry, I’m OK.” But that’s what I was crying about!
He later told me that God had given him the same peace.
“I didn’t wonder if I was badly hurt,” he said, “but how bad.” And I kept telling everyone, “It’s OK. God is in control – but call my wife.”
His paramedics probably needed better bedside training. For they kept saying to each other, “Wow, he’s really bad. I don’t think he’ll make it.” I told them not to worry, he said, “I’m in God’s hands and he’s in control.”
The peace we had sounds crazy now. But it’s one of those miraculous gifts God sends sometimes, and when we least expect it.
How does such peace happen?
It’s not something we can work up. We can’t give ourselves a pep rally by repeating “I will not worry, will not worry, will not worry.” It just won’t work, especially in such extenuating circumstances.
It comes through the relationship we’ve already cultivated with the Lord.
Through the already existing habit of leaving our burdens with the Lord in prayer. And through recognizing that he is near – in good times and in bad.
He was there when Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into jail. He was there when Christ was nailed to the cross. And he was there during my husband’s accident and in the operating room.
And it comes through trusting in God’s sovereignty.
Knowing he is control and working out his greater plans cancels out all our what-ifs and whys. He had a family’s salvation in mind with the imprisonment of Paul and Silas. And the salvation of humanity through Christ’s crucifixion. And though we may never know why he allows some things, we know he has only good in mind.
Resting in his sovereignty brings that peace which transcends our human understanding – because it comes straight down from eternity. From our sovereign God who is working all things out for our good. And in that we can rest.
The peace of God comes from the God of peace.
Mountain photo is my own. Floral background on quote image by Scott Webb on Pexels.