Early last summer, Gianni and Mirella Tarroni had much to look forward to. Gianni could retire in a few months. And they would travel to Sardinia to enjoy their church’s annual convention with friends from all over Italy. Life was predictable — and good. Then in one terrible instant everything changed.
On June 14, 2007, our son Giacomo suffered traumatic head injuries in a very serious motorcycle accident. He could easily have died. But thanks to God, Giacomo is alive. This event has changed our lives and set before us some priorities we had not known before.
Looking back over the last few months, we can see how a terrible trial has also been a wonderful blessing, one in which we saw God’s hand time and time again watching over our injured son.
Call them coincidences if you like. We don’t. We know they are answers to the many prayers of people around Italy and around the world who prayed to our heavenly Father for our son.
At the right time
At the scene of the accident, Giacomo suffered cardiac arrest. But this was reversed right away. The helicopter rescue team arrived at the scene of the accident in time to perform the vital intubation and transfer the main body functions to a machine, and thus to allow Giacomo’s seriously damaged brain to rest. And when he arrived at the emergency room, a young and skilled neurosurgeon immediately opted for brain surgery, leaving an open breech in Giacomo’s skull.
All these things needed to have happened or our son would have died at the scene or would have been in a coma for the rest of his life. As it was, he slowly began to respond to the treatment. We surely had some moments when the fear of losing Giacomo took hold of our minds. But the Comforter would intervene to remind us that God was with us.
After 26 days in the intensive care unit, Giacomo was transferred to the rehabilitation unit for seriously brain-damaged people at Ferrara, only 50 kilometers (about 31 miles) from our home. It was there that we began to see how, even in our own severe trial, we had an opportunity to be a witness to the love and mercy of God. In the hospital were many other young people from all over Italy, all of whom had suffered terrible injuries. Some of them had waited several months before they could be admitted to this highly specialized rehabilitation center.
Even in this regard there was another "coincidence." Before Giacomo’s accident, I had signed all the paperwork so that I could retire in December. But it worked out so that I was able to retire six months in advance, without any financial penalties, so we could be in the hospital all day, every day.
Helping at the hospital
The hospital at Ferrara soon became the center of our daily lives. Our continuous presence in the hospital allowed us to see the spiritual needs of many other people. The patients had come from all over Italy, and not many had the blessing of having family members close by, so we found ourselves with the opportunity to serve not only our son, but many of the other patients, bringing them a drink of water, peeling fruit, picking up dropped objects or just offering words of comfort.
This taught us a valuable lesson. When God performs a miracle in the life of a believer, he wants to give him or her the strength that comes from faith to witness his grace and bring the good news of the wonderful hope of the fulfillment of God’s plan to those who suffer.
We have indeed experienced putting the word of God into practice. Before the accident and our experience in the hospital, we knew it because we had read it. But now we can say that the Spirit would remind us of the scriptures that we needed in order to find comfort and a solution to our fears and human apprehensions. When we were discouraged in seeing Giacomo lying still and unconscious, the Spirit seemed to tell us, "God is almighty and he can make anybody stand." When our own strength weakened, the Spirit reminded us that no trial can be greater than our capability to bear it. When we cried out, "Why Giacomo and not one of us?" the Spirit immediately replied that "everything works together for good to those who love God."
Strengthened by suffering
This trial has helped us understand that God didn’t give us this physical life to use all of our time to become accomplished engineers or successful businessmen, as if physical life were an end in itself. God has given us life so that we seek him and love him. He wants to give us eternal life to be lived in his presence. We have been called to live in the faith of Christ in every circumstance of our lives, being fully aware that we haven’t been promised an easier life than other people, and fully aware that suffering coming from circumstances and events of this life strengthens us spiritually.
The god of this world tries to destroy believers, but the Creator strengthens them in the faith and sets them ready for the main spiritual mission: to be a living witness and light in a world that is in anguish and spiritual darkness. Every trial and every suffering can help us develop a spiritual perspective.
We know that our Father has rejoiced in the many prayers by many believers from all over the world. To him they were as "perfume," and he has chosen to reach out to us with his comfort, mercy and a peace that "passes understanding."
Giacomo continues to make slow but steady progress. At first it was thought that he would be paralyzed on his left side. But he is now able to make small voluntary movements with his left leg. Everyone is encouraged. Please keep praying.