A bad fall

January 11, 2011

Faith Outdoors

On Monday, Jan. 3, my life took a turn — literally. While on a run that morning, I turned my ankle — severely, in fact. I have been on crutches ever since, waiting patiently for the slow healing process to unfold.

It has been hard, but I have seen the fingerprints of God in all this, starting with the first few moments after it happened. Though jogging at a slow pace because of the snow and ice, I, nonetheless, found myself sprawled on the pavement a mile from my house.

Instantly, I knew it was a bad injury to my left ankle. I had taken a stride forward and all of my weight was on that ankle, which rolled and buckled. In a matter of a second or two, my thoughts went from finishing my run to wondering how I would get back home.

It couldn’t have been more than five or 10 seconds later that I heard the sound of a vehicle driving toward me. That’s when I realized I would probably would need some help.

Fortunately, the person, a woman about my age, stopped, rolled down her window and asked if I was OK. When I said no, she offered me a ride home, which I gladly accepted.

Later, I realized that God was looking out for me and was providing me with the help I needed. I even mentioned this to my rescuer, who thought that was a nice way of looking at things. She seemed somewhat surprised.

We didn’t have any further conversation about God or spiritual matters. The pain set in shortly after I got into her van, and I was moaning and groaning all the way back to my house.

From there, it was my wife, Julie, and my four children that began taking turns attending to me. I must say, they have done a remarkable job. That has been a great blessing for me. Julie, in particular, has been just terrific. She has such a giving heart and it has been made manifest over the last week.

I am greatly humbled by her service, and the service of my children. I haven’t been able to put much weight on the ankle — even a week later. So, they have had to do lots of things for me. Julie has been there every time I needed her, even though she works a part-time job and has had to manage the kids and the household since my injury.

You learn a lot about God’s love when someone loves you the way Julie has loved me. Perhaps, God wanted me to see this more. Certainly, I have had time for more prayer and reflection while spending time icing and elevating my ankle. Obviously, I want to get better soon and be back to normal again, but I also want to make sure I remember the lessons of love my wife has taught me.

I sure hope I can be there for her if the tables are ever turned. She has proven over and over that she is a highly committed and loyal person. And, to think, God is even more faithful to us than that. This truth should alleviate all doubt about God’s providential care for me.

Sadly, it doesn’t. Though my name isn’t Thomas, I seem to have a serious doubting streak within me. Not sure why that is. Original sin, perhaps? No matter the cause, it’s something I continue to struggle with. During this time of recovery, I sense God is calling me to a deeper level of trust.

Why is that so hard? Does he ever fail to provide for me? No. However, he does allow things — bad things — to happen to me from time to time. That can be a tough truth to swallow, but God does not hide it from us. I was reminded of it on Friday, Jan. 7 when I read a verse from 1 John. In verse 19 of chapter 5, it says, “We know that we belong to God, and the whole world is under the power of the evil one.”

There’s the answer. Because Satan has power over this world, he inflicts pain and suffering on those in it, including Christians. That’s the reality we face in this life.

What can we do? Someone recently noted that my ankle injury is an opportunity to offer my suffering up for the intentions of others. I have done this a few times. I believe in this idea, though I’m very curious about what effects such prayers have. Sometimes, I wonder if it does any good at all, and start moving toward doubt, once again.

Here is another area where pure trust is needed. After I die, I’d love to find out what effects my prayers had on others. Perhaps, I’ll be surprised. Years ago, when my grandmother, Ruth Kramer, was in her 80s, she wondered aloud whether the prayers of elderly shut-ins like her had more influence on the world than the works of powerful people like Donald Trump.

I think she’s got a point. In faith, I will offer more of my sufferings as prayer. At the same time, I will continue to pray for a full and speedy recovery.

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About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

View all posts by Dave Hrbacek
  • Kathy Schneeman

    Dave, this article is great. I love how you discuss the appreciation you have for Julie. Your grandmother’s thoughts gave me a laugh.