Finding Strength in the Back of an Ambulance

Erik Cooper —  March 25, 2014 — 10 Comments

The last thing I remember was telling my daughter to repeat the first line of her new song. We still had a few minutes to practice before we left for her school concert, and she was finally making some progress on her new piano piece. My wife was upstairs getting ready, and I wanted to take advantage of the time.

And then, just like that, I was in the back of an ambulance.



Excruciating pain in my lower back.

Zero recollection of the previous 20 minutes.

Out of nowhere, at age 39, I suffered a grand mal seizure. Lost consciousness. Stopped breathing. My wife and kids thought I was dead. And if that wasn’t traumatic enough, I also fractured three vertabrae on my not so graceful tumble to the ground. I can suggest better ways to spend a Tuesday evening.


I’ve had plenty of downtime over the last week to think, to worry, to be afraid, to feel guilty for my self-pity in light of other’s much darker plights, to be angry at my four decade old body for not bouncing back as fast as I think it should. But of all the pending plot lines, one story seems to be rising above the rest.

I’m a broken human being. Quite literally broken. I’ve got the MRI and CT Scans to prove it. And that’s incredibly frustrating.

At this stage of my life, I need to be stronger. I need to be wiser. I need to be the kind of leader, and father, and husband, and friend that people can lean back into without my spine (actually) crumbling under the weight. In fact, that’s what I’ve been begging God for over the past few months – to make me stronger! And yet here I am, having never felt more weak. I pray for one noble thing, for the power to steward the growing responsibilities being placed on me, and I get the exact opposite. What kind of promise is that?

And then He whispers…

“‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” –2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT

Sometimes God gives us exactly what we ask for, even when we don’t understand what we’re asking for. Sometimes the most empowering gift we can receive is learning that we’re not the One in power. Sometimes the strength we long for requires us to embrace our weakness.

I don’t know what you’re facing today. It might be much more catastrophic than an unclassified seizure or a fractured back. All I can tell you is that it’s ok to be feeble, to be broken, to be weak. Real strength is found in the most counterintuitive places.

10 responses to Finding Strength in the Back of an Ambulance

  1. This is what I posted this morning. I hope you find comfort in the fact that there are people praying for you.

    I was struck by this passage that the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church.

    We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die.

    But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.

    And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. (2 Corinthians 1:8-11 NLT)

    There are at least two lessons here. First, tribulations help us draw near to God, and secondly, and probably more important, prayer helps us through it. It is so important that we remain in prayer for one another in these times of trouble.

  2. This is a hard pill to swallow. As a thorough and adamant planner, in an effort to control each step of my life and those around me (good intentions), I wonder if I don’t ignore or miss some of how God desired to direct me.

    To think that grace is all I need is somewhat a scary thought to me, to think that His power works best in weakness. I wonder how weak I am? Do I want to be weak? I’ve worked hard my whole life to become strong, wise, “successful.”

    As of late, 2 Corinthians 12:9 and Matthew 5:3-12 (the Beatitudes) are really challenging me as to who I am in Christ, who I should be working to become. Thanks for sharing.

    • Grace is scary. Man, that’s an honest insight. The thing we desperately need the most is the hardest thing for us to grasp onto, because it means reaching the end of “me.” And as much as I claim otherwise, I love trusting in myself. Thanks for your honesty Adam.

  3. Excellent, Eric. So well written and encouraging. Praying for your recovery! Thanks for sharing. So much of what you wrote resonates in me in this particular season. Blessings, man!

  4. Great perspective. I could so relate to this as well, Erik; considering my own health battles. I’ve learned a lot about blind trust in my Creator and what it means to praise Him in the storm…the purest act of worship in my estimation. We’ve been praying for you!

  5. Oh, and I love what Kathy^ shared as well!! 🙂

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. How to Celebrate Easter in the Hospital | Beyond The Risk - Erik Cooper - April 20, 2014

    […] CVT (or blood clots in the veins in their head) each year. It’s possible this condition caused my seizure last month, and the poor flow of blood through my body has also driven my blood pressure to […]

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