OVERCOMING TRAGEDY: JUDAH SHARES HIS STORY OF GOING FROM DESPERATION TO FINDING HOPE.
I remember I woke up in the emergency room, and all I hear are whispers. I heard words like broken back… broken neck…. and I have no idea what is going on. The hospital I am in doesn’t have the resources to help me, so it took three ambulances and a life flight in the middle of the night.
It was spring break and the flights to Hawaii are 90% off. This is such an amazing opportunity that my family decides why not, in fact, it’s so last minute, we don’t even have time to tell anyone, and we fly to Hawaii. We are there less than twelve hours, we are in the ocean, and I am hit by a wave. This wave, as it turns out, lifts me up, and then I am falling, I am underwater, and all of the sudden, I’ve hit something hard and I can’t move. I quickly realize, not only can I not move my arms, but I can’t move either of my legs. I don’t know what’s going on. I begin to shout to my family, but at first, they don’t realize what’s going on. They just see me hunched over, and I’m just saying, “Help! Please help me!”
When I woke up again I discover I have broken my neck in three places and my back in five places. I am only aware of two things – I am wearing a brace and in excruciating pain. I feel so alone. Even with my dad there with me in ICU, I still feel so alone.
The pain is just a barrier that I am unable to connect with anyone! Even with my family and the medical staff who are caring for me, I just feel all alone. I was so done. I was so done with the pain. I just want it to end it. And when it hits you, you realize no one can help. Suddenly I am crying out to God. I realize He is the only one who can hear me. I can share this with Him. I can share my pain. I can share my questions. I can share my doubts. I am reminded that God’s son also experienced excruciating pain, His son went through this feeling of being alone. So in the midst of this, moment by moment, He was reminding me, “I love you and there’s a plan for you. You don’t see it yet, but there will be a purpose to this pain.”
Unfortunately in some ways, the worse was yet to come. Now begins the long and grueling process of physical therapy. I had to learn how to walk, how to move my arms, and even how to move each finger. Learning how to sit up, stretch, and then finally stand. Each milestone also brings setbacks, but over time I see miracle after miracle. The healing process was slow, but step by step, day by day, I continue to see improvements. The doctors and surgeons in Hawaii are amazing and share with me what a miracle it is that I even survived the accident. I should be dead. And yet today I am standing here proof of a miracle. I am able to walk, to live my life, and it is all thanks to God. He was with me in the accident, and He was with me in the recovery. He was with me in all of that. Throughout this process, God became real to me.
This accident, instead of being a tragedy, became a tangible way that God became real to me. God’s message to me is that He’s not done with me. My story is unfinished. As I reflect on my journey, I am overwhelmed by the realization that my life was spared for a reason. It’s not every day that you get hit by a wave and end up with a broken neck and back. But for me, it was a wake-up call to the fragility of life and the importance of faith. Through my pain, God’s love and grace became tangible to me. I know without a doubt that He was with me every step of the way, and that He has a plan for my future.
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