I recently had the chance to interview Gina Kelly on the Your Hope-Filled Perspective podcast, “Trusting God is Faithful in our Painful Situations,” about how she was able to trust God’s faithfulness through and after a life-threatening accident. In this guest post, Gina shares 3 examples of God’s faithfulness at the time of the accident and how God has used her testimony of the accident as a way to bring others to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
3 Examples of God’s Faithfulness
By Gina Kelly
Nearly 41 years ago, on February 22, 1979, my life was forever changed. I was in the 6th grade and served as a crossing guard for my school. As I crossed a busy street to get to my post, I was struck by a pickup truck as a pedestrian. I flew roughly 150 feet in the air, landing in a snowbank on the side of the road that broke my fall. I sustained life-threatening injuries. Six of my ribs were broken on the right side. My right lung collapsed. And I had a skull fracture, also on the right side, with a significant head injury. The nerves that control hearing on my right side were damaged to the point that I lost all hearing in my right ear. I had complete facial paralysis on the right side as well. I was transferred from our local hospital to a larger facility where I could receive the care I needed.
My mother came upon the accident before the ambulance arrived. My younger brother, who was only six years old at the time, was in the back seat of her car. He witnessed me being loaded into the ambulance. My father, who was only a mile and a half away from the site of the accident when it happened, met my mother at the hospital. My accident was not only a pivotal time in my life. It had a tremendous impact on my whole family.
3 Examples of God’s Faithfulness through My Accident
As I look back on that day, and the years that have passed by since that time, I have seen at least three areas where God has shown His faithfulness through my accident.
1. God’s faithfulness at the moment of the accident: He gave me confidence, assuredness, and peace.
The first way I have seen God as a faithful Father is in the way He was faithful to me in the moment of the accident. My parents were told immediately after my accident that I was not expected to live through that first night. If I did survive, they were told I would likely never walk, or talk, or be able to fully reason and think well again. But God had a different plan! I knew from the very first moment that I would be OK. I even told my parents so. And I told them to tell the man who hit me that I forgave him.
This confidence and assuredness were not my typical behavior traits. I was usually shy and timid. The confidence and peace I knew in the middle of the ICU room came from God. God gave me His peace. And it did surpass all human comprehension. I did not know the prognosis my parents had been told for many years. I knew the accident was serious. But I didn’t know that I was expected to die or suffer so much injury. I only knew that God had me. I FELT my broken body cradled in the arms of Jesus.
To this day I cannot fully explain it. But it was real and I felt safe.
Years later I heard Elisabeth Elliott share one of her favorite verses: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27a). I knew how it felt to be held by God in that ICU bed with all of the many tubes coming in and out of me. I learned that God is our comforter. Kids stared and made fun of me following my accident. I covered my mouth as I smiled, ashamed at that time of my crooked smile. God brought to me those who spoke His truth into my life.
God showed me that He heals from the inside out.
2. God was faithful to give my parents peace.
A second way God showed His faithfulness through my accident was in the way He was faithful to those around me at that time. My parents have shared with me how they had no idea what lay ahead of them as they went to bed on that night over 40 years ago. My parents did not have a smartphone with a Bible app. Or Google. They didn’t even have a Bible in their hands. All they had was a pamphlet with verses my dad was memorizing. One of those was Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
My parents went home to be with my brother on the night of the accident, leaving me alone in the ICU. God was teaching my parents that He was worthy to be trusted. Even with their children. My parents were not able to prevent the accident. But God allowed them to sleep deeply that first night as I lay in the ICU. They slept soundly in their bed knowing the peace and hope that only a Heavenly Father can give at such a time.
My father had just begun speaking at Christian Business Men’s Committee meetings prior to my accident. After my accident, he began sharing the story of God’s faithful protection over his baby girl to any group who would have him. I remember Dad sharing of men in the audience weeping as he shared my accident from the eyes of a father.
God’s loving arms were underneath my parents and brother as well as they were underneath me.
3. God showed His faithfulness in using our trials and pain in the lives of future generations.
There is a third way I have seen God’s faithfulness through my accident. God has shown that He is faithful to use our trials and pain in the lives of future generations. From 1993-1995, I was a missionary in Peru, South America, with South America Mission. In Peru, I worked as a physical therapist in a school for children with special needs that was run by Peruvian nationals. I worked with students in the school to help them get stronger. Polio was still prevalent in Peru in those days, as were Cerebral Palsy and other developmental disabilities. We had a clinic after school hours for people from the community as well.
During this time, God led me to a passage in Joshua chapters 3 and 4 that moved me to tears. It is the story of how Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan River as they entered the Promised Land. The priests who bore the Ark of the Covenant led the way. When their feet became wet as they entered the rushing river that was overflowing its banks during flood season, the waters parted. A way was made for the Israelites to cross the river on dry land.
The LORD instructed Joshua to take twelve men, one from each tribe of the Israelites, and to have them each grab a stone from the place in the river where the priests’ feet stood. They were instructed to grab a stone from that holy ground just beneath the Ark of the Covenant. These stones were then laid down on the other side of the river in the place where they slept that night. These stones were large enough that they were carried on the shoulders of each man. And these stones were given a sacred purpose. They were raised up as a sign of remembrance for the people. They were set up so that in the future when their children would see them and ask, “What do these stones mean to you?” they would be given the opportunity to speak of the faithfulness of God. They would be given the opportunity to share His HOPE with the generations to come.
Sharing my testimony of God’s faithfulness
In my own life, I realize that there are scars of remembrance that I carry. As a prepubescent teen girl, I struggled greatly with my reflection in the mirror. My smile is crooked. And my right eye doesn’t close as easily as my left. I can only raise my left eyebrow, not my right, when surprised. I often have to ask people to repeat things that are not heard on my right side. As a teen, these scars seemed burdensome.
God revealed to me that day that He has other purposes for my scars. He showed me that they are not meant to be a source of shame or pain. No, His plans are the opposite. He spoke into my heart as tears flowed down my face that He allowed my scars to remain visible for His purpose and glory. When others see my crooked smile and when I have to ask people if I may switch places with them to hear them better, God is opening up the opportunity for me to share of His faithfulness. To share His HOPE with a world that so desperately needs Him.
Just after I read the story of Joshua, a couple came to the clinic in Peru where I served. The wife had a fractured pelvis and other serious orthopedic injuries from a bus accident. Her husband brought her into the clinic and laid her on the treatment table. As I worked with her, her husband also watched and listened. At one point he asked me point-blank (in Spanish), “Why is your face that way? What happened to you?” Wow. I had never before and have never since that day had anyone be so blunt. As that young teen I spoke of before, I would have been crushed to pieces. But for God. God had been at work in my life for several years by then. He had shown me that He had a purpose for my crooked smile and other scars.
I smiled as I shared of God’s work in my life with the husband and his wife. Of the faith and hope I had found in Him. I shared the good news of the gospel with them. And they both looked at me and said that they wanted to know this faithful God personally in their lives as well. What a sweet prayer time that was as a husband and wife met their Savior in person that day! And I still weep as I think that the moment we shared may not have ever come about if it were not for my crooked smile.
What scars of remembrance do you carry, sweet friend? Do not despise the scars that speak of God’s faithfulness. I will smile my crooked smile with you as we praise the God who works through it all.
I was blessed to share my story publicly on the 40th anniversary of my accident last year. My family was there to hear it. God says that our testimonies are powerful. In Revelation 12:11, we learn that the enemy of our souls, Satan, is defeated by “the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” I pray for strongholds in the lives of many to be torn down. I am not the same insecure girl I once was. Oh, I still struggle with my scars and am a bit camera shy to this day. But God has been growing up a boldness in me. He is making me brave. And as I write this today, I can honestly say that if I had to do it all over, if having a perfect smile and the ability to hear in stereo meant that I would not know God in the intimate way that I do, I would go through the pain to know Him. He is worth more to me than my scars.
God is faithful. Would you like to encourage others by sharing a testimony of God’s faithfulness in the comments below?
Other hope-filled resources about God’s faithfulness.
- The Faithfulness of God
- Our God is Greater
- God Will See You Through
- Trusting God in Hard Times -7 Lessons Learned
About Gina Kelly
Gina Latta Kelly is wife to her husband Brian, and mother to her two teenagers, Joy and Joseph. She works as a pediatric physical therapist in an outpatient clinic and also does some contract work in a cyber school system where she lives in south central Pennsylvania. She served as a missionary in Peru, South America prior to getting married. Gina says she still feels as if she left a piece of her heart in Peru with the families she worked with when she was there. Gina loves to be active and breaking boards in TaeKwonDo is one of her favorite ways to spend a Friday night. Gina and her family serve in their church by teaching the 4 and 5 year-old Sunday School class.