I was eighteen, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

The feeling and the smell of the scorching seats in my camaro as the car started in the heat of summer. The music playing quietly in the background as we drove. It was maybe a mere mile from my house.

With me behind the wheel, my then boyfriend and I were following four of our closest friends to celebrate my birthday. I recall dipping down to the right on a low shoulder. The words of precaution my Daddy had taught me as I learned to drive rang automatically in my ears: Just come slow to a stop or ease back on slowly and don’t panic.

I attempted to do so, but the depth of the shoulder jolted my car back onto the road abruptly and I didn’t expect it. The shock caused me to jerk my wheel hard one way, then harder the opposite way. Before I knew it we were airborne. I had lost total control of the car.

The last thing I remember was watching us plummet towards a telephone poll as I let go of the wheel, closed my eyes, turned my head and grabbed my boyfriend’s arms. It was one of the most terrifying moments of my life.

It happened so quickly, yet simultaneously felt as though it were happening in slow motion.

I have fuzzy in-and-out memories of coming to on the ground as someone lifted my head to place their shirt underneath it. I very vaguely recall seeing my younger sister standing by herself on the side of the road crying. The absolute shock, tears and apologizing over and over to my parents when they got there.

And that’s it. It’s all I can remember. Not the crash itself. A very vivid before, and a touch of the after.

The single clear moment I recall from the hospital, was a quiet minute I spent alone in the ER bathroom after the doctor finished my stitches. I looked at myself in the mirror and immediately cried out to God. I didn’t ask him where He was in this…I already knew for certain. His hand provided protection. My cry was a cry of needing His presence in that moment…to take my thoughts and to comfort me.

And He did. It’s a moment that’s forever etched into my memory. Jesus met me there in that emergency room bathroom as I stood there and cried. He allowed the accident to happen. He is God: He can give, and He can take away. He can allow, or prevent things from happening. On that day He took something awful and terrifying, and at the risk of sounding dramatic, He changed me through it. He displayed his presence, and blessed me with an opportunity to glorify Him for His goodness. Have I been perfect ever since?? Goodness no! (I was only eighteen after all). But it’s a day I always go back to. I know without a doubt that my life was spared through his mercy.

My parents still live in that house, therefore I frequent the sight of the accident quite often. Each and every time I pass by, I remember. Not just the play-by-plays of the wreck. But more importantly, God’s hand of protection. He allowed it, yet He also supplied safety. First responders on the scene told my parents if the nose of my car wouldn’t have hit the bank first, jolting my body forward before wrapping around the telephone poll, that I would have been killed. Miraculously, despite the appearance of my car, and the drivers seat itself squished in half, I came out of it with only a concussion and just a few stitches.

Imagine knowing something tragic like a car accident or death of a loved one was about to happen to you…

…Jesus knew. That night in the garden He knew they would arrest him, as he took his friends and went to pray. He confided in them, but they couldn’t understand his torment. When he returned from prayer, he found them all asleep. Jesus understands what it’s like to suffer pain and sadness alone (Oh, how He can relate to us SO well. So much more than we credit Him for).

There is NOTHING in this life that we could go through that would be more painful than what Jesus endured on our behalf. Nothing we suffer through that He can’t empathize with the utmost compassion. He was deserted by his friends, ridiculed by those who chose not to believe in Him. Beaten and tortured before his crucifixion…then nailed to a cross in a wrongful and shameful public display… Slowly dying of suffocation as he bore our sins. He was aware all of this was coming. He foreknew the details, pain and humiliation he would face.

What a love…

Knowing ALL of this, we can’t possibly believe that God can’t understand our pain and needs when we suffer heartache.

This particular story of mine has a happy ending. But not all the bumps in our roads do. Much like my accident, life beats us up now and again. Sometimes harder than others…and there is ample reason to feel afraid and unsure at times. But God can give us a peace much greater than the issue before us. He is after all, God. Our creator. The one who created an entire universe on the backstroke. He knows us intimately. Even the smallest, most insignificant details of us. And if we will trust Him and rely on Him as we encounter life’s difficulties, He will securely hold us.

If you’ve never come to know Jesus, let me assure you there is zero chance of ANYTHING in this world filling you to the brim with a true and real peace that you can grab ahold to when life hits you hard like He does. We aren’t promised a smooth journey. But with Jesus, there’s the promise of a friend that will hold, comfort, protect, and sprint to your rescue when you call Him. Oh, what a Savior.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

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