Looking At Horrible Circumstances From A New Perspective

June 26, 2017 |
God is in control

If anyone had told me I’d be the mother of a child who’d need care the rest of her life because of a brain injury I would’ve said, “I’m not the sort of person who can handle that kind of thing.”

And I would’ve been right. I can’t handle that kind of thing.

But God can.

Because of a horrific car accident, which changed the lives of my family forever, I see God in ways I couldn’t ever have seen Him before.

He’s shown me in my weakness, He is strong. He’s shown me who He is and who He’s made me to be through Him.

I didn’t want to be that person. I wanted a normal life, low on the emotionally challenging side.

But when my daughter was thrown from a car at age 2 and sustained a head injury, the kind of person I wanted to be didn’t matter anymore.

Life Upended

I had to let God mold me into the kind of person He wanted me to be.

I wasn’t happy about it.

Honestly, I fought a little. Sounds ridiculous. But, I understood how Jonah felt. I didn’t want to be the kind of person who was “out there” for God. I didn’t want to be a living testimony.

No, I was perfectly happy quietly being in the shadows for God.

If I’m honest, I’ll have to admit I was questioning His goodness.God's Goodness

Why would a good God place me on the side of a highway where a sleep-deprived driver could plow into my car, wreaking havoc on my life?

Why would a good God take my beautiful, brilliant girl and injure her so she’d struggle academically, socially and emotionally the rest of her life?

That’s not what the good God I’d learned about in Sunday School would’ve done. That God had rescued a whole nation of people and set them free. That God created beauty, not the ugliness that comes from trauma.

Blaming God

I blamed God for destroying my life.

I thought He didn’t care. We’re just a bunch of pawns He toys with for His pleasure, like pieces in a chess game, I thought.

I knew all the things that could’ve gone wrong in that car accident. I knew people could’ve died. That a pediatric resident didn’t have to be behind the car that hit us so she could render life-saving care to my husband and daughter.

I knew my church didn’t have to devote an entire prayer service petitioning God on my family’s behalf.

I knew those things. They just didn’t make a difference. My life had changed. God had allowed it. And I was mad.

One afternoon as we sorted through insurance details, our attorney shared a report with us from a company they’d hired to recreate the accident.

They’d recreated the scene using mathematical formulas and a bunch of stuff I didn’t understand and had concluded if my daughter had been strapped in her carseat upon impact, she would’ve been decapitated.

If that had happened, instead of going to physical therapy appointments, I’d be going to place flowers on a grave.

A New Perspective

Instead of imagining what life with a brain-injured child would be like, I’d be imagining what life without my child would be like.

In the blink of an eye, my vision of life changed again.

Instead of mourning a life that wasn’t to be, I celebrated the life we had.


Now instead of seeing a harsh God who’d wrecked my life, I saw a good God who’d saved my daughter’s life.

Without that horrific experience, I never would’ve personally understood the true nature of a loving God.

My faith would’ve remained a part of my life. It wouldn’t have become my life.

I understood instead of destroying my life, He’d transformed it into an object of His mercy.

And, He’d allowed me to mourn and complain instead of celebrate. He’d allowed me to pull away from Him, so I would only want to get closer.

When my anger was exhausted and I was poured out, feeling ashamed for judging Him, He didn’t allow me to stay there; He opened His arms and welcomed me home.

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  • Reply Heather Hart June 26, 2017 at 8:04 am

    I love this, Sheila! When bad things happen, we can either focus on the pain and hurt, or we can trust God and His goodness. I remember when my son was diagnosed with cancer. It was one of the most peaceful experiences of my life. I knew it was tragic, but God gave me a peace that surpassed all understanding. And He saw me through. So thankful for Him.
    Heather Hart recently posted…Summer Schedules & Jesus

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 26, 2017 at 9:14 am

      Thank you, Heather. He does provide peace we cant’ understand, if we let Him.
      Sheila Qualls recently posted…Putting Out Fires

  • Reply Alice Mills June 26, 2017 at 9:01 am

    I love your honesty. Our God is big enough to handle our anger and disappointment with Him. And He loves us enough to see us through to the other side of our anguish.

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 26, 2017 at 9:15 am

      That’s true, Alice. He knows exactly what’s on the other side. That’s where faith comes in, I suppose. : )
      Sheila Qualls recently posted…Putting Out Fires

  • Reply Erin June 26, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Thank you for your transparency. We have a saying in my family, “But God!” When we hear the things of this world we all remind ourselves of what God has said to us, promised us. Thank you for this.
    Erin recently posted…Painted Rocks

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 26, 2017 at 10:47 am

      You are welcomed, Char. We do have to remind ourselves of what God has promised. I am glad you enjoyed the post.
      Sheila Qualls recently posted…I Like Being in Control

  • Reply Char June 26, 2017 at 10:30 am

    I appreciate your honesty and sharing a difficult story. It’s hard to pour yourself out, but God. He is good. I find assurance that one day we will understand as He does. All I know for now, is He IS good.

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 28, 2017 at 8:53 am

      My pleasure, Char. I can’t wait for the day when we will gain understanding. But, in the meantime, I’ve got to put my faith in knowing He is good.
      Sheila Qualls recently posted…I Like Being in Control

  • Reply Charly300589 June 26, 2017 at 10:31 am

    My goodness I am sorry to hear about your baby girl. Yes God sometimes stretches us further than we can go. And though we scream and yell why God, we have to remember there can always be another side. A side much worse than we can handle.
    Charly300589 recently posted…Making time for Relationships

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 26, 2017 at 10:49 am

      Thanks. She is actually doing much, much better. She still has struggles, but she graduated from college last month. We are thankful.
      Sheila Qualls recently posted…I Like Being in Control

  • Reply Karen June 26, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    I feel like this was meant for me. My son is undergoing the long process of being diagnosed with autism. I am so mad at God, yet I know He is the only way that I will ever survive this journey. Thank you for sharing.

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 26, 2017 at 4:02 pm

      My heart goes out to you, Karen. Sometimes life seems SO unfair. At times, I was so angry, I couldn’t pray. The sweet thing is I know God never left me. When I look back at that difficult time, I can see His fingerprints all over the situation.
      Sheila Qualls recently posted…I Like Being in Control

  • Reply Heather June 26, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    What a powerful message and realization! I remember the post on your car accident from a couple of months ago. I think if we could look at all the bad situations we have been placed in and see the alternative, the situations would take on an entirely different perspective.

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 26, 2017 at 8:02 pm

      You’re right, Heather. Looking back when you’re not in the situation anymore provides amazing clarity as does thinking about what could have happened. I continue to see situations with a new perspective.
      Sheila Qualls recently posted…I Like Being in Control

  • Reply Chelsea Bolks June 27, 2017 at 12:46 am

    Oh how true this post is. I wonder if you have ever seen the old Disney film, “Pollyanna”? It has many wonderful spiritual truths about perspective…taking less than idea situations and rejoicing in what is good. One thing that comforts me when I go through hard times is that I can later help someone else who is going through the same problem. I’m sure you’re an invaluable wealth of knowledge and understanding for other parents who have suffered similar trials. Thank you for sharing your story!
    Chelsea Bolks recently posted…Human Heart/Heavenly Heart

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 28, 2017 at 8:50 am

      I love “Pollyanna,” Chelsea! My sisters often “accuses” me of having a Pollyanna outlook. : ) I think that’s the best option we have. Otherwise, we would walk around in a state of depression and hopelessness. What do you think?
      Sheila Qualls recently posted…I Like Being in Control

  • Reply Lo @ Mrs. Lo Tanner June 27, 2017 at 11:47 am

    Perspective changes everything! I used to hate working out and especially running, but after some pretty intense complications with my third pregnancy and delivery, my perspective began to change. Instead of dreading exercise I began to thank God for my ability to move my body, to walk, to weight train, to run after my kids. 3 years ago I would have never looked at it in that light. But perspective changes everything.
    Lo @ Mrs. Lo Tanner recently posted…The 5 Love Languages of Children

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 27, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      (Totally agree with the workout thing) But, I also agree that perspective changes everything. When we begin to look at the blessings (such as being able to move our bodies), we begin to feel thankful.
      Sheila Qualls recently posted…I Like Being in Control

  • Reply Karen Sargent June 27, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    Wow. Powerful. I’m at a Christian speaking and writing conference at the moment. I just heard author and international speaker Linda Evans Shepherd share her story about her daughter who also suffered a brain injury due to a car accident. You both have amazing testimonies. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 28, 2017 at 8:47 am

      I can imagine Linda’s story. I know what an injury like that can do to a mom. I’m thankful God has given her a platform to speak about it. I am sure she brings hope to many through her story.
      Sheila Qualls recently posted…I Like Being in Control

  • Reply Tammy L Kennington June 27, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Hi Sheila. Thank you for sharing with such vulnerability and openness. Two of my children struggle with ongoing illness and I have often questioned God’s plan. But, His allowing for my growth and complaints has given me opportunity to see His mercy in the difficult times. Blessings, Tammy

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 28, 2017 at 8:44 am

      Tammy, I am sorry you have to watch your children struggle. That is so hard on a mom, and sometimes it does lead to questioning God’s plan and even His goodness. As I have just testified, I have done plenty of that. He does stretch us through difficult times, sometimes to the point where we think we will break. I can get blinded by the pain in the moment. When I look back, I can always see His mercy.
      Sheila Qualls recently posted…I Like Being in Control

  • Reply Karen Del Tatto June 27, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    Sheila, Having a two year old granddaughter, your story gripped my heart.

    Thank you for sharing your story in such a transparent way. I think it’s good when we talk about how we’ve wrestled with God because in the end we can testify to His loving grace and mercy, despite our initial feelings of anger.

    Your testimony is amazing and you can see how God is already redeeming it in your life, your daughter’s life, your family’s life and all those whose lives you touch.

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 28, 2017 at 8:39 am

      I am so glad to testify to His grace. He is always there, even when I feel like He’s not. Reflection and perspective allow me to share. I can see how God is redeeming this tragedy in our lives.
      Sheila Qualls recently posted…I Like Being in Control

  • Reply Amy Christensen June 27, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    It is amazing what God can do! Bless you sister for the difficulty you have gone through and for the realization of how truly good your God is! We all struggle with these questions, but it is good to hear someone who came out on the other side of the struggle. Thanks for sharing. – Amy

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 28, 2017 at 8:35 am

      You’re welcomed, Amy. The struggle is still real. With every milestone in a child’s life, comes a new struggle. I have to remind myself of perspective. Sharing my story with others, reminds me of where my focus needs to be.
      Sheila Qualls recently posted…I Like Being in Control

  • Reply Sherry Chamblee June 27, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    Thank you for this testimony, Sheila.

  • Reply Kristi June 28, 2017 at 1:01 am

    Wow!! In the blink of an eye everything can change….our lives, our feelings, our attitude toward God. And in His amazing grace, he can patiently change our perspective too and allow us to see a gift where we did not notice one before. Thank you Lord for saving her daughter’s life. Bless their family as they continue to lean into you!
    Kristi recently posted…Who’s in God’s House?

  • Reply Pam Ecrement June 28, 2017 at 9:24 am

    What a powerful story, Sheila! Thanks so much for sharing it. I think it can be easy to forget that our anger and disappointment with God does not knock Him off His throne. He sees the pain and grief and everything in it, but He also sees the promise of His love and all-sufficiency when we cannot see it and don’t want to see it. I think if we are honest, we all like being in control and the truth is recognizing there is little that we can control.

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 29, 2017 at 8:22 am

      Accepting that we have little control is the challenge for me sometimes, Pam. But relinquishing makes all the difference in attitude and perspective.
      Sheila Qualls recently posted…I Like Being in Control

  • Reply Nicole Kauffman June 29, 2017 at 6:36 am

    Thank you for your honest look into such a difficult time. It truly is in those times that we see the power of God. I’m so glad you’re following hard after Him!

  • Reply Joy June 29, 2017 at 7:55 am

    Sheila, this is beautifully written. Your honesty is refreshing and relatable. May you be greatly encouraged as you continue in God’s call. Blessings to you!

  • Reply Barbara Fisher June 29, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Wow, thanks for sharing your pain and your journey to trusting God even in the hard circumstances of life. May he continue to be glorified even in this and in you.

  • Reply Megan B June 29, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    Thank you for sharing this story. Perspective is everything. I am so glad that you have been able to see God in the details and that it has drawn you closer to him. I pray that he would give you strength and courage and wisdom as you minister to others through your circumstances.

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 29, 2017 at 3:42 pm

      God continues to show Himself in this circumstance, and He continues to give me strength to keep going. Thanks for reading, Megan.
      Sheila Qualls recently posted…I Like Being in Control

  • Reply Brenda June 29, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    What a testimony, Sheila. ((Hug)) Thank you for sharing your heart so vulnerably.
    Brenda recently posted…#ChasingCommunity Linkup 26

  • Reply Katie June 29, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    Thank you for sharing this! What a beautiful, profound testimony to God’s goodness & grace even when it all seems so distant!

  • Reply Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven Not Harvard June 30, 2017 at 12:29 am

    Oh, bless your heart! No parent wants this kind of hurt. None of us WANT God to put our lives out on that limb, but everyone He mightily uses is in that tree. Our limbs might be different, but God doesn’t let hard happen without a beautiful purpose. What Satan meant to destroy, God will use for His glory and our benefit. I know that it will always be hard, but I hope God holds you close always.
    Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven Not Harvard recently posted…Beating Body Image Issues: Compared to Who?

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 30, 2017 at 9:09 am

      Yes, Satan could not thwart God’s plan. God has used it for His glory, Jennifer. I must share what God has done.
      Sheila Qualls recently posted…I Like Being in Control

  • Reply Patti June 30, 2017 at 7:47 am

    I spent years being angry at God and blaming him for destroying the hopes and dreams I had for my life. I spent years doubting His goodness. You see, he took my fertility away from me. I had easily conceived 2 children before I became a believer. When my husband and I went for a third child about a year after becoming Christians, I was no longer able to conceive. I had been hit with mysterious, unexpected fertility issues. No amount of praying or pleading changed things. For 17 long years (1993 – 2010), I was angry at God and doubted His goodness. Finally, in late 2010, I was brought to the place of surrender. My circumstances did not change—I never conceived, and an adoption fell through—but I was able to trust in His plan, and in His goodness. Only by doing that did I discover peace.

    Even when God doesn’t seem to be good, loving, or kind, by faith, we must trust that he is!

    Patti @ Joy in the Middle

    • Reply Patti June 30, 2017 at 8:15 am

      I ended my comment too soon…

      As you said it’s all about perspective, and—like you—I needed a new perspective as well. Instead of lamenting the children I DIDN’T have, I needed to be thankful for the 2 I DID have. The fact is, I could have had zero children—or only one. I’ve been studying my genealogy for the past 6 years, and what I’ve noticed on my most maternal line (mom, maternal grandmother, maternal great, maternal 2nd great, etc.) is that for generations, each woman bore only one child. Perhaps my genes predisposed me to only being able to conceive one child, but God in his grace, chose to give me 2. Realizing that gave me a new perspective.

      • Reply Sheila Qualls June 30, 2017 at 9:13 am

        That had to be a hard place, Patti. When we see the big picture, what a difference it makes! Many blessings in you and your children.
        Sheila Qualls recently posted…I Like Being in Control

  • Reply Valerie Murray June 30, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Sheila your testimony truly touched my heart. I had to stop and compose myself for a bit at the point where your little girl was thrown out of the car. I write a lot about fear and one of my big fears has always been getting into a car accident/driving. I often imagine the “worst case” scenerio but usually don’t see the way God could be there in it (like providing a pediatrician to be at the scene to help–that brought me tears too). I don’t think we’ll ever understand why God allows these painful things to happen. And I think it’s ok not to understand until Heaven. Thank you for sharing your experience and how having perspective has helped you.
    Valerie Murray recently posted…How To Be An Encouragement To Your Spouse

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 30, 2017 at 12:40 pm


      Thank you for your kind words. I would not wish a car accident on anyone. It was a difficult time. I understand your fear. God was there. He showed up in a big way. The outcome could have been so different. I am thankful He is patient. I look forward to the day when we will understand. For now, I am grateful. Thanks for reading.
      Sheila Qualls recently posted…I Like Being in Control

  • Reply Lisle June 30, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    This is so honest and real! We too often blame God for circumstances that were actually a display of his mercy meant to bring us closer to him. Without the harshness of reality we would never want to depend on him for happiness.

  • Reply Tara June 30, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Your struggles with God are the struggles we all face in some way, though not all with that kind of impact. Thanks for sharing. Perspective changes everything.

    • Reply Sheila Qualls June 30, 2017 at 3:55 pm

      You’re welcomed, Tara. I am thankful for perspective. God really showed His true character, which is good all the time.
      Sheila Qualls recently posted…I Like Being in Control

  • Reply Heather Gillis June 30, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    Sheila I can so relate! I’ve been there questioning God’s goodness and blaming him! And then my perspective was changed when he showed all I had to be thankful for! Thank you for your post! Great job!
    Heather Gillis recently posted…A Biblical Trek Through the Great Land of Alaska

  • Reply dawn July 5, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Sheila, your words were such an encouragement. Thank you. I think all us have questioned God’s goodness at some point or another. I’m so thankful for his patience and gentle loving care in times like these. You’re right. God is so good and sometimes all it takes is a little shift in perspective to see that more clearly. Thank you for sharing with Grace and Truth last week. I would love to feature this post at G&T this Friday.

    • Reply Sheila Qualls July 5, 2017 at 4:28 pm

      I am thankful my words encouraged you. I am so glad He is patient, especially with us particularly stubborn ones. I’d be honored if you featured this post on G&T.
      Sheila Qualls recently posted…I Like Being in Control

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