I was at my wife’s mom’s house visiting, when the caregiver, Carol, told her story.
Her son, Daniel, had entered the military and done a three year tour in Afghanistan. Those years had been filled with turmoil and fear for Carol. She had continued to turn to the Lord. Trusting. Praying and Trusting again.
Daniel, unlike so many others, returned unscathed. She celebrated his homecoming. She was grateful.
Then, on May 8th, 2013, six weeks after he had returned, he was in a head-on car accident. He suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was 21 years old.
Darkness descended upon her heart and life. How could this have happened? How could her son have survived bombs and bullets only to be struck down here by such a driver! And just blocks from her house. “God, you did not spare my boy for this!” she declared and began to pray.
Daniel’s doctors did not agree that he would be spared. They told her,
That’s it. No options. No hope.
In that first week, Daniel did not die. He lived. Still unconscious but alive.
During that time, God birthed hope in Carol’s heart. She knew, like she knew the sky was blue even behind the clouds, that Daniel would recover. She began to speak and pray along these lines. “He will live. He will win over the odds,” Carol declared.
First, Carol believed, her son would wake up. The doctors were not certain even of this. They were concerned for Carol. She was being too optimistic! There was no way Daniel could come back from this. They felt Carol needed to face reality. So, they told her this.
One day as Carol was in the ICU room with her son, something happened. He was surrounded by machines beeping and multiple bags of medicines and fluids. Carol was praying and writing out prayers of thanksgiving. She wrote these prayers as if what she hoped for had already happened.
It takes a different kind of faith to pray such prayers. Here her son was still in the bed, unresponsive, and thus she prayed. Carol walked in such hope. She was practicing hope.
But on that particular day, a nurse came in to take care of Daniel who did not share this viewpoint. As she was there, the nurse told Carol,
I am certain the nurse meant well. She was trying to help Carol “face reality.” But Carol was facing the reality of another dimension.
On the one hand, this nurse was correct. All of us shall die, we are mortal. None of us know the full number of our days, nor that day when our end will come.
Still, Carol felt this nurse’s attitude and words would not allow for her son to find the life left for him. This nurse was speaking into the air the opposite of what Carol was choosing to believe and speak. Indeed, Carol believed words carried power, and they do:
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.Proverbs 18:21
But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.Matthew 12:36
After this nurse left, Carol marched out to the nurse’s station and spoke with the head nurse. “I do not want that nurse (she named who it had been) allowed to care for my son again.” The head nurse promised this would be the case. “My son will recover,” Carol told her.
The negative, unbelieving nurse never again cared for Daniel.
Carol continued to write out her prayers and pray for her son. She kept vigil by his bedside. Every small bit of improvement was noted. The day he awoke. The day they removed the breathing tube. The day he moved his fingers. They day he could focus on her and recognize her.
Carol began to tell the doctors and nurses,
The doctors and nurses would smile politely, shake their heads concerned for Carol’s wellbeing, and believed this would never happen.
Carol remained unswayed. She would tell the doctors and nurses, “You will see a demonstration of the power of God.”
And they did. In under a year Daniel did walk in there and thank them for their care.
They were overwhelmed. The doctors and nurses still remembered Daniel’s stay with them. They were all weeping and grateful. “Very few people come back to thank us,” they told her.
Daniel made great progress over the next year. Carol came and helped him through every day, 7-days a week. This never-ending shift became too much for her. Daniel was walking, talking, feeding himself, and able to do his basic care. But Carol burned herself out.
Daniel is now 32 years old. It has been 10 years, this year, since his accident. Because the VA stepped in to do some of the care, Daniel was put onto heavy medicines which now have him back in a wheelchair. Currently, Carol is fighting the VA to get his prescription medicines reduced. But she still saw God’s power and he is still here, knows her, and others, is able to speak. He is no vegetable. He’s her son and he is greatly loved.