Imagine the scene. Tuesday, November 6, 2012: Election Day, a presidential election no less. The nation is attentively watching President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney, who will win?
Somewhere in the deserts of Colorado a teenager opens his eyes, sensing commotion coming from everywhere. He feels the cool November air against his skin. His body tells him a story he does not understand. He shakes his head and looks around but what he sees does not commute to his brain. He is in tremendous shock. The fact that he is in a vehicle of which the roof is creased and the sliding door is shaped like an awkward ‘v’ registers nothing with his senses. All he says is “What? What?” and even those words mean nothing to him.
The young man realizes that there is a woman leaning through the driver’s window of the vehicle. She is talking. He finds she is attending to another woman: his mother.
He finds the word: “Mom?”
Suddenly his senses are beginning to actually make sense. He sees that his sister is no longer in the passenger seat. Yes, she had been in the passenger seat and is now walking around talking on her cell phone. There is another girl with her, also using a cell phone. Forgetting that his seat belt remains fastened around him, the young man makes movement to get out of the back seat he is in. The strange girl puts her hand out and tells him to stay put. He looks confusedly at his sister as she says, “Christopher, we’ve been in a car accident,” and “It will be alright.” The dots begin to connect.
I am that young man.
I woke up to a new life that day. I became one of those motherless teenagers. I began a journey I did not ask for, but one God entrusted me with.
I could give you a full report of my mental processes. I could tell you of my tremendous pain, or I could tell you about how awesome and peaceful God is. But you know both are true and to speak of one without the other would be incomplete. We have to face it, life is painful. Yet, the pain we encounter does not negate God’s goodness, in reality it is our own fault that pain is in the world. The pain I have encountered has helped me to realize the importance of one’s view of God to how one reacts to life.
I believe God is sovereign and in full control of the universe; I also believe that God is completely good and the very definition of love. But one cannot reconcile His two characteristics without remembering that, firstly, it was we who brought pain into the world and, secondly, God has a plan. I could scream and holler and relieve my pain and guilt by calling God unjust for taking my mother; but I do not—I cannot—because I know that He is completely loving and therefore MUST have a better plan in mind. Mom is enjoying perfect bliss away from pain and one day I will join her, but until then, God has a marvelous plan which is somehow better through her death. God makes no mistakes, He knew exactly what He was doing when He allowed her to die.
All I know is that from the moment I awoke, I had a very strange calmness about me.
I looked around the vehicle. Oh yes, I remembered my new red backpack, no longer next to me on the bench seat, but on the floor. Instead, with me on the seat was a shattered car window—everywhere. I remembered that my sister’s name was Kristi and that we were in Colorado for my brother’s wedding.
I remembered a dream I had while unconscious. It was a weird dream about a truck coming straight at me.
As an EMS lady helped me out of the minivan, I saw a black book wedged beneath my mom’s jarred seat. I knew it had significance and I desperately tried, to no avail, to make my brain think of what it was: my dad’s Bible. I pointed at it and she asked me if I wanted it, I believe I nodded. Once put on the flat, hard, plastic board with a brace strapped onto my neck, they allowed me to hold the Bible close to my heart.
At this point memory filled my brain as water fills a bathtub, slowly but steadily. Mom, Kristi, and I were on our way to somewhere in the city of my brother’s fiancée, when apparently we were in an accident.
My neck hurt.
The ambulance ride was very uncomfortable, but what should one expect when strapped to a board and unable to move their neck? The EMS lady with me in the ambulance asked many questions. She asked me who the president was, I told her Barack Obama, but added hopefully, that it might change.
I do not know why, but they did not use sirens for me. In fact, I heard my sister’s ambulance pass me while I was stopped at a traffic light (or something). Apparently they were not too concerned about me. Maybe it was because I had answered all their questions right, or maybe they saw the tears I shed as I heard my Dad’s voice call out my name and as I saw the faces of my brother and his fiancée. My sister, though, was in shock. Shock has killed people. And my mom? She was life-flighted, but she would be alright, I just knew it. She had to be alright. She was Mom.
When we reached the hospital they swiftly pulled me out of the ambulance and pushed me through the emergency area into my room. It was like being in a movie—only much worse. This was real life—that is what shocked me more than anything.
The next few hours could be described in one word: waiting. I am told it is standard procedure for victims of a car accident to be cat-scanned for any internal injuries. Of course they did not find anything. I could have told them as much.
My memory was still weak at this point, but with every familiar face I saw, the memories returned. It is hard to imagine the significance of a familiar face until one no longer has them. Seeing friends all around me kept me from despair.
After both Kristi and I had been scanned, they wheeled me into her room because “my sister wanted to see me.” I thought they were referring to my sister Kristi who was healthy and wanting someone to chat with. (I did not know that because of her concussion she could chat with the same person and talk about the same subject over and over again for hours and have a wonderful time.) I soon realized it was Carita, my other sister, who wanted to see me.
I was hoping above hope that she would say Mom is okay and the life flight was an unnecessary precaution. That Mom would be at the wedding. Instead I heard those accursed words: “Mom’s heart couldn’t take the trauma.”
How does a teenager respond to this? Both my sisters began to weep. I was confused. The knowledge of death settled into my mind and I too began to weep, but the reality of it all remained very far away.
I declare that God is still good. This response does not come from Christopher Witmer, but from Jesus Christ who lives inside of me and all followers of Jesus. Yet, the goodness of God does not remove the pain; in fact, it may be God’s goodness which allows me to feel pain. It tells me I am alive. It forces me to ask questions—to be honest before God and express my heart to Him. It forces me to worship God, because the only other response would be anger and hatred towards God.
I am on a journey. You are on a journey. Each journey is different, but each journey must encounter pain. How will you respond to the pain that you WILL face? I have found coming before Jesus is the only thing that calms my soul. It is easy to get caught up in other pleasures in order to distract my soul, but only Jesus gives me the peace which allows me to say that “I am in pain, but God is good.” He is the healer, the miracle worker, the peace giver, the sovereign God, the Almighty, the Beginning, the End.
Who am I? I am a sinner, I cannot lie. I sin. I have sinned, I do sin, and I will sin. I do not flaunt this as something to be proud of, but I simply admit it. I am a fallen human. But therein lies the key–the mystery. Through my confession of guilt, I admit my need for justification. I have disobeyed the Lawmaker, but that very Lawmaker has justified me because Somebody came and paid my fine. I am a sinner, but Jesus served my penalty and justified me. So now, I am a child of God. I went from deserving Hell, to being an heir of all that is good. Now God, in His mightiness, can reach down and lavish upon me all His rich goodness. In reality, I am no different than the “unsaved,” but I have accepted God’s forgiveness and have had my relationship with Him restored. The wall between He and I has been torn down. I am no different as far as my tendency to sin, but I live with the constant expectation that Christ will develop growth in me—that He will sanctify me. I have an even greater hope that one day, He will glorify me with all the believers and this crazy body will no longer desire to sin.
God is the One who sustains you through pain. Pain is a necessary process in life. It helps us grow, but no one can properly respond to it apart from God. Develop a relationship with God. In the end, anything else will be consumed, as fire consumes wood; but a relationship with God makes you to pass through the fire and come out pure gold.