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Did God cause Kevin Ware’s broken leg?

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Trainers attend to Louisville's Kevin Ware (5) after he broke his leg in the first half against the Duke Blue Devils during their Midwest Regional NCAA men's basketball game in Indianapolis, Indiana, March 31, 2013 (Credit: Reuters/John Sommers II)

Last Sunday, University of Louisville guard Kevin Ware broke his leg on national television.  His right shin bone snapped and protruded through the skin, an injury so gruesome that the television network stopped replaying it.  Ware had surgery in which his broken tibia was straightened and a rod was inserted into it.  His leg will heal in eight to 12 weeks; he is adamant that he will play basketball again.

Ware told his story to ABC’s Good Morning America yesterday.  He elaborated during an interview with CNN: “This is all God.  This is all God’s plan.  He would never let anything happen that He wouldn’t want to happen.”  According to Ware, there is a reason for everything, but “I don’t know what the reason is going to be” for his injury.  “It is just a process.  I’m ready for it,” he said.

For Kevin Ware to trust God in the darkest hours of his basketball career is both commendable and inspiring.  The last thing I want to do this morning is disparage his faith and faithfulness.  I agree completely that there is a reason for everything, in the sense that God redeems all he allows.

At the same time, I would like to suggest a different angle on Ware’s injury.  Our youngest son suffered a nearly-identical injury while playing intramural basketball in college.  Both his tibia (the shin bone) and fibula snapped; a titanium rod was inserted through his tibia and nailed to his ankle bone.  His suffering was terrible, and his recovery was long and painful.

While I never doubted that our sovereign Father allowed our son’s injury, I never believed that he caused it.  We live in a fallen world (cf. Romans 8:22), where droughts and West Nile virus and broken legs are tragic but natural occurrences.  While God can clearly cause disasters such as the Flood, I believe that most adversity which can be explained naturally should be.

When God caused disasters in Scripture for judgment or other providential reasons, he warned the people first.  Noah warned humanity before the Flood (2 Peter 2:5); Moses warned Pharaoh before the plagues (cf. Exodus 7:17); divine “handwriting on the wall” warned Belshazzar before he was slain (Daniel 5:25-28).  Our son received no such warning that would identify his injury as the result of divine judgment.

However, the Lord redeemed his suffering in remarkable ways.  Before writing this Cultural Commentary, I asked him what he learned from his injury.  He says that he experienced God’s peace “which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).  He also learned that we must be willing to receive God’s redemption before we can experience it fully.  Is God waiting to redeem an injury in your life?