This is a personal story I just had to share. It’s so good to remind ourselves of the ways God has provided for us and taken care of us, through both the good and bad parts of our lives. This is not the only time I have seen God’s provision in my life, but it’s certainly one of the most memorable.
The wave hit hard,
slamming the breath out of my lungs and dashing me against the bottom of the ocean, rolling me to shallower water and pounding against me. I heard a bone cracking loud in my ear, sharp against the rumbling thunder of the water. Saltwater rushing up my nostrils, filling me…I struggled to stand up. Fear swallowed up the pain when I saw another huge wave building to a breaking point. I ran, fighting the current dragging me back out. The wave crashed behind me, but this time I was too far away for it to hurt me. I collapsed on the sand.
My friend, Leslie, was still out there. She had been smart enough to swim under and through the wave. She waved and shouted something I couldn’t hear. Through the fog overtaking my mind, I saw the red flag on the beach.
Maybe in Honduras those flags actually do mean something. We had dismissed them earlier.
“Are you okay?” Leslie slogged through the water to reach me.
“I think—I maybe—dislocated my shoulder,” I gasped. She grimaced.
“Is there something I can do?”
“Pray for me!”
I lay there for another space of time, hurting so badly I couldn’t think.
As my brain cleared, one of my first thoughts was, How can God use this? And then, We need to get back to the motel.
We were splitting the $7 it cost to get a motel room here in Tela, a beautiful but dirty beach in Honduras. We had met each other on the way from the airport to the orphanage where I had spent two months volunteering and where she was still working. I had moved to a different area in Honduras, and we had decided to finally take a vacation after our five months of work.
“Can you get up?” Leslie asked.
“I don’t know.” I started to sit up, and the world turned black. I fell back against the sand.
Now she was really worried. “Do I need to get someone to help us?”
Who? The guys who were cleaning up the beach several hundred yards away had been blowing kisses at us and catcalling when we passed them, and I was a little afraid of them. “Just stick your hand behind my lower back and push up when I sit up.”
I almost passed out again, but we managed to get my legs working again and stumbled down the beach. Back at the shabby-clean motel, I somehow showered and changed clothes. I was afraid to touch my left shoulder area. Something was moving around in there, and I had no idea what. Leslie insisted we find a doctor. We walked down the streets, my left arm cradled in my right and my face white with pain.
The doctor’s office was just two tiny rooms next to a pharmacy. I sat down in one of the plastic chairs and we waited for the receptionist to stop visiting with the other people waiting. She finally looked at me. “How old are you?” she asked in Spanish.
“What’s your name?”
She scribbled those two things on a torn piece of paper, and that was it. No medical history, no more information of any kind. The man across from me started advising me to go visit a massage therapist, because he thought that just might fix me up.
We finally got to see the doctor. He sat me down on his examination chair and started poking around. “Clavicle completely broken,” he announced in Spanish. He waved Leslie over. “Come on, touch it.” Her face looked horrified, but she did it. “See? Completely broken.” He then told us there was no X-ray machine in the hospital in Tela, and I shouldn’t get anything done in Honduras. I needed to have surgery soon, but I needed to go back home, back to the United States. He smiled and waved goodbye, didn’t charge us anything for his consultation, and went on to the next patient.
The next day, we were at a bus station at 5 AM, my arm wrapped in a green beach towel that Leslie had made into a sling for me.
The buses came and went without us until about 9 AM, when one finally let us use our tickets. Ten hours of jolting roads later, we were at the orphanage. By that time, I had learned how to explain to all of my seatmates in Spanish that my collarbone was completely broken from a wave. They all looked at me incredulously. “A big wave?”
“Yes. It smashed me into the sand,” I said at least thirty times.
It was dark when our taxi drove us from the bus stop to the orphanage complex. The guard opened the gate for us, and I stumbled into the volunteer house. Someone set up a chair for me to sleep in, and I lay there and wished for my mom and to be anywhere but in Honduras. Please show me what you want to teach me through this, God, I kept praying. I struggled to crush my pity-party-loving side (which is more than 50% of me on days like these).
Way Too Many Coincidences
My prayers were answered quickly.
There just happened to be a doctor from the US visiting the orphanage. There just happened to be a phone I could use to call the States. Someone just happened to have donated exactly the figure-8 brace the doctor needed to keep the sharp-edged pieces of clavicle from piercing through my skin, and a nurse just happened to be spending a month in the volunteer house. A few days later, on Christmas Eve, I flew home. My mom cried when she saw me for the first time in five months with my arm in a sling and unable to carry anything.
I didn’t have insurance at home, just trip insurance for volunteers that wouldn’t guarantee payment for anything. But God continued working. A doctor friend of my dad’s had gone to school with a man who now specialized in the type of surgery I needed. He helped me get an appointment quickly, and I was scheduled for a New Year’s Eve surgery. The surgery went smoothly, although I was in so much pain when I woke up from it that I felt like a truck had hit me. My night nurse told me she had heard a lot of stories about broken collarbones, but mine was a new one for her. People here gave me the same incredulous look Hondurans had given me when I told them a big wave broke my collarbone that badly.
I was still wondering what God was going to teach me.
I couldn’t figure out why He had let me buy a plane ticket to Nicaragua and bus tickets to Costa Rica for the months of volunteering I had already committed to doing there. It was wasted money. I couldn’t fly to Nicaragua: I had to stay and work to pay off a hospital debt. The hospital had had me fill out some paperwork to try to get financial help since I was a volunteer, but I had some money in my savings account to support myself during the upcoming months of volunteer work, and I was sure that would disqualify me.
At home, several weeks after the surgery and a couple of weeks before I was scheduled to fly out, the bill came. Over $14,000 for the hospital stay alone. That wasn’t counting the surgeon’s fee. I prayed again and again for wisdom and provision. I didn’t have over $16,000 to pay for all my costs, and working for free in rural Costa Rica certainly wasn’t going to pay any bills. Please, God. Help me learn to trust you.
I kept making phone calls, tried to not worry, kept praying, and started working a few hours a week, arm in a sling at all times, at the library where I had worked during college. Right before I was supposed to leave, the news came: I had been approved for Mercy Hospital’s help. They had fully forgiven my hospital debt.
I couldn’t believe it. I checked on the online account, looked at the columns. Over $14,000.00 in one line—and the balance was zero. Thank you, God. That same week, I heard back from my trip insurance. They had decided to pay me back for the money I had paid the surgeon. My whole family was thanking God together.
Just a few days to pack, and then I took my arm out of the sling and flew to Nicaragua on the same day, still hurting a month after the surgery but so very thankful. God had known when I was buying those plane and bus tickets exactly what was going to happen. He had known when I had committed to teaching English in Costa Rica. And He had known that He would provide for all my needs.
I still sometimes forget to trust God, but whenever my problems begin to overwhelm me, I remember.
God paid my hospital bill. He guided me as I made my plans. He used something bad to work something very good in my life: reliance on my heavenly Father, who works all things together for good for those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) Did He need me out there volunteering in Central America? Not necessarily; He could have sent anyone else. But He wanted me to learn to trust, and He used a severely broken collarbone in a foreign country to teach me that lesson. Sometimes we have to be completely broken before we realize that God really is in control.Sometimes we have to be completely broken before we realize that God really is in control.Click To Tweet
When has God provided in an amazing way for you?
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