“On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty,
“they will be my treasured possession.”
Malachi 3:17 NIV
Our middle son turned nineteen in the summer of 1997. A budding musician, he was excited about his participation in an upcoming youth ministry trip to Canada. But he had more than the trip on his mind. Shortly before he left, he wanted to talk.
“Mom,” he confided, “I’ve been thinking. I don’t want to do something easy for God. I’ve asked Him to send me to a hard place.”
A few months later, on July 11, 1997, God answered his prayer. That afternoon Kevin broke his neck while attempting a back flip on a church lawn in Canada. The break was high, nearly at the skull. He was immediately paralyzed from the neck down. He couldn’t breathe. The breath he had taken before the flip escaped like a long sigh as he slipped into unconsciousness. His team leader kept him alive with CPR until an emergency crew arrived. Kevin was taken to the local hospital and placed on a ventilator. It was then we received the terrible call from our pastor’s wife.
As my husband, our eldest son, and I drove to Canada through the night, Kevin was flown to a larger facility at Calgary. Twelve hours later, we arrived at the Foothills Hospital and found Kevin lying motionless—but conscious—in the intensive care unit.
Tubes, wires, and machines were everywhere. Since he still had the breathing tube in his mouth, he could not speak. He communicated with us by blinking once for yes and twice for no.
Trying to maintain my composure, I reminded him about his prayer to be sent to a hard place. “Next time, you should pray for something easy,” I said. He blinked hard, twice.
That was the first of many faith lessons I have learned from my family since Kevin’s injury. He eventually regained enough neurological return to wean off the ventilator during the days, move every part of his body to one degree or another, and do a few simple things for himself. He returned home about seven weeks after the fall.
Since then, he has taught himself to run a computer with his left hand, and he can even walk with help. He built a popular Christian music website by himself, which enables him to reach more people each month with the good news of Jesus Christ than he probably ever could have before his injury.
They say tragedy can make or break a family. In our case, God has used Kevin’s disability to reveal those treasures of trust, loyalty, and self-sacrifice we may have never otherwise been privileged to witness. Through every trial, Kevin’s brothers, sisters, and extended family have surrounded him like a protective wall of love. They assist us with the endless caregiving duties and stand by Kevin’s side through every setback.
Together, we have walked through unspeakable darkness. Together, we have laughed, cried, and supported each other through the daily battles of life. Together, we have rejoiced over each victory. Together, we will make it.
We may be serving God in a hard place, but we know without a doubt there is a solid Rock beneath our feet. We look forward to the treasures we have yet to discover as we look to the future with hope. With God, great loss can lead to greater gain if we put our trust in a faithful Creator.
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How has your family coped with setbacks?
by Pam Thorson
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Pam was born at the Millington Naval Base outside of Memphis, Tennessee, the first child of a Wisconsin navy seaman and a Southern belle. Her early life was marked by many moves around the country as her father pursued a career in broadcasting. After traveling throughout the deep South and the Pacific Northwest, the family finally settled on the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) reservation in Idaho. Pam met her wonderful husband during college, set her roots down deep along the banks of the Clearwater River, and happily began a home and family. Pam and Aaron educated all five of their children at home. They began homeschooling in 1982 and graduated their youngest daughter in 2006. Pam and Aaron have been married forty-one years. They have five grown children, two sets of precious in-laws, and two beautiful granddaughters. Pam has long loved to write. She began writing for the local college newspaper and homeschooling group. Later she authored many devotionals for her church and an article for Evangel. In 2008 she wrote Song in the Night, the true account of her son’s injury in Canada, their fight to keep the doctors from pulling the plug, and the subsequent journey back home. Her second book is due for release by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas in early 2014. In 2000, Pam became certified as a nurses’ aide to care for their injured son. She and her family have operated a certified family home licensed by the state of Idaho since 2000. In 2011, she completed the practical nurse program at Walla Walla Community College and earned her license as an LPN. Her conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1975 set her on a journey with her Savior spanning nearly four decades. Her love for and devotion to life has come from this association with her Creator. Pam adores her husband, her family, and friends. She enjoys her beautiful little log home, good coffee, the sound of the river at night, and just about any kind of Christian music.