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After a scary incident, a song of praise to God

After scary incident, a song of praise

Gorodenkoff | 06photo | Shutterstock | Collage by Aleteia

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 04/21/24

How can I do anything but praise God and pour out my thanks to him for taking care of us after yet another scary close call of danger?

This past Friday, something very scary happened to me, but God’s protection throughout it was so strong that I was left feeling more rooted in gratitude than ever before.

I was driving home from an event for my kids and was zooming along the highway when my kids started complaining about a bad smell. Then the car began rapidly decelerating, no matter how much I pushed the gas pedal.

I was driving in a middle lane of the highway and realized immediately I needed to get over to the shoulder, but cars were zipping past me and not letting me merge. I began honking as I felt increasingly frantic. After a few terrifying moments, I just barely made it over to the very narrow shoulder right as the car stopped completely and would not go another inch.


You can see from this photo what a scary and dangerous situation we were in. My car had barely made it out of the lane, and a back wheel was still over the yellow line. I was on the left side of the highway, where the cars were fastest, and it was rush hour, so the cars just kept coming nonstop.

Peace amid panic

You can imagine how panicked I felt, but I didn’t want to scare my children who were in the car with me, so I forced back tears and quickly called for roadside assistance and arranged for a friend to come pick up my kids while I waited for the tow truck.

At this point, my kids were aware enough to realize we were in a dangerous situation, and they began to cry. I was also frankly terrified, but somehow, something incredible happened: I felt this sense of peace, knowing God would take care of us, no matter what.

This is the great gift of faith, my friends. When everything is going well and we have the illusion that life is under control, it’s easy to forget about God, to think we don’t need him. But when we are terrified, panicked, and heartbroken? Then we know we need him, and often we can feel God’s presence in a real and immediate way as he pours out the peace that passeth all understanding.

Never alone

Whatever happened next, whether good or bad, we would not walk through it alone. Even if the most unimaginable worst-case scenario were to happen, God would be with us and would cover us in his grace. I knew I had to praise him, even without knowing how things would end up.

“God is with us. He is going to take care of us,” I told my kids. “Let’s sing one of our favorite songs to remember that Jesus is always with us.”

My daughter loves singing in our parish children’s choir, and her favorite song is “I have been anointed” by the Notre Dame Folk Choir. I began singing it, and slowly my kids stopped crying.

Just as we finished singing, a man in a pickup truck pulled over behind me. He walked over and said, “I’ll stay behind you until help comes.” This Good Samaritan parked his huge vehicle in the same way I was stuck, with a wheel over the lane, to protect us. 

Then my friend arrived to pick up my kids, and soon after, a police officer arrived and pushed my car forward to a wider section of the shoulder that was much safer. At that point, I felt safe again, and pulled out the rosary we keep in the car to pray in thanksgiving.

Many unknowns, but unafraid

Right now, our car is at the mechanic, and we don’t know if it is fixable. We are a one-car family, so we are car-less at the moment, relying on friends to give our kids rides to activities, and we plan to walk to Mass on Sunday. (Fortunately, there is a church less than a mile away from our house.) There are a lot of unknowns, and I don’t yet know how this story is going to end.

But one thing I do know is that I am not afraid. God is with us. God is protecting us. As one friend said when she heard the story, “Your guardian angels were working overtime.”

When I begin to list out all the ways in which God blessed us and protected us throughout the whole incident, I am overcome with gratitude. What if the car had stopped just seconds earlier, before I was able to get to the edge of the highway? Or what if a car had hit us while we were stuck there? What if my friend hadn’t been available to immediately come get my kids? And so many people took time to help us, from the kindhearted stranger in the pickup, to my friend and her husband, to other friends and family members who sent messages of prayer and encouragement, and many offers of help.

Grateful for “an abundance of good”

All I can think about is how grateful I am. Grateful! The word echoes again and again through my mind, the refrain of my heart and soul and entire being. The blessings and silver linings of the situation outnumber the bad things in such a vast amount that I think of Mother Teresa’s words about evil being drowned in “an abundance of good.”

Something similar happened a few months ago when we had an electrical fire at our home. It was a very scary situation, but by great good luck, the fire was outside the house and it was raining when the fire started. The drizzle put out the fire before any big damage was done, and no one was hurt.

And again, last summer, I saw God’s hand in it when a silver maple tree fell down in our backyard. It took out a power line, but the tree fell in exactly the spot where my children and their cousins had been playing the very day before. When I stop to really think about how close a call that was, I am so overcome with gratitude that all the children are safe that I want to fall to my knees and praise God without ceasing for his goodness and mercy.

A grace that brings calm

Again and again, in moments of great fear, when I am about to hit rock-bottom emotionally, I find instead (to my shock) a deep wellspring of God’s grace that drowns out my panic in peace. This is not a story about how God saved us three times, but about how reaching out to God in prayer brought me through scary moments with a calmness and gratitude I never would have expected. How can I do anything but praise God and pour out my thanks to him?

After this third close call, I feel rooted in gratitude with a conviction beyond anything I’ve experienced before. 

I’m not King David, and I’m not a songwriter; I can’t write a psalm or a Magnificat. But I can share with you the awe I feel at God’s mercy, the thankfulness that overwhelms my soul and brings me to my knees. 

This is my song of praise, and I want to share it with the world.

Acts of KindnessCatholic LifestyleGratitude
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