I’m really excited for today’s Story of Hope. Many of you have enjoyed these stories of Overcomers, and I’m glad to be bringing them to you! I’ve already introduced you to Sarah Hill here as my friend and guest for my Unstoppable Life program course on Blessing Others, she has been such a blessing to me and today I want to bring you more of her personal story of overcoming.
I met Sarah in 2001 and, as you may know, she played an important part in my journey of healing and overcoming in that challenging time following the loss of my arm.
Today, Sarah is a Christian speaker, an incredibly dedicated youth leader on the island of Kauai, a founding board member of and the Executive Director of The Beautifully Flawed Foundation (formerly known as Friends of Bethany). The heart of Sarah’s personal journey has actually helped shape one of the key messages of the Foundation and its retreats: the message that God can use the pains and trials we face in life for a greater purpose. Sarah’s story is a true Story of HOPE… may it fill you up today.
Sarah grew up in San Diego as one of five children; and as a young child endured abuse at the hands of her father who suffered from drug and alcohol addiction. Sarah’s parents divorced when she was 9 and part of her journey of overcoming has been forgiving her father and healing from the hurt of her childhood. As a child Sarah wrestled with feelings that God must not love her to allow such hardship in her life. Sarah found her identity in water sports and even earned a full ride scholarship to play water polo out of high school. That is when more trial was added to her story.
The summer before her collegiate career, at the age of 17, Sarah found herself in the hospital with a broken neck and back from a surfing accident. Her dreams were shattered and her plan for her future completely altered.
One night, in desperation and hopelessness, Sarah turned to a Bible that her mom left in her hospital room and opened it up to 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. Through these words God spoke to Sarah, comforted her, and showed her what was possible:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
“I had never heard something personal from God in my life,” says Sarah. “I didn’t know what people meant by that. But I cried out that I needed to hear something and that was when I learned about surrender. He told me, ‘I can bring purpose to all of the pain.’ So I stopped asking the question ‘why’ and committed that I would live that promise out.”
Sarah remembers telling God that she would surrender her bitterness and anger and disappointment to Him, she would give her life and love to Him, if he could turn her pain into purpose.
“He told me, ‘I can bring purpose to all of the pain.’ So I stopped asking the question ‘why’ and committed that I would live that promise out.”
Little by little, through the encouragement of people in her life, through changing plans and attending Bible college, through taking a big leap of faith and moving to Kauai in 2001 to start youth ministry, God showed Sarah again and again how he could use her pain for good. Step by step, year by year, Sarah has been faithful to God’s call, and step by step, year by year, God has shown Himself to be ever-present and ever-faithful in her life. Many years after her accident Sarah uses her story, her altered life-plans, her purpose that was born out of her pain, to impact the lives of countless people and show them that, with Christ in our life, our trials and pain can lead to healing and purpose on a scale beyond what we could imagine.
Sarah was loved and encouraged in her hospital room when she was 17, and that is exactly what she did for me in my hospital room when I was 13.
Sarah has continued to help other young women and men embrace the power of their story, and find purpose in their pain, giving their pain a voice to help others. Sarah wants YOU to know that God’s love for us is bigger than our biggest hurt, disappointment, trial, or loss. His grace IS sufficient for all of us…His power IS made perfect in weakness…and when we are weak, THEN we are strong.
For more of Sarah’s story, including details of how our lives intersected and how God was present at the time of my accident, watch this recent interview with Sarah. Her challenge for us is to bring the pain of the world right now to God, to hope in Him for healing for our country, to find unity in our pain, and to embrace that prayer is the anecdote for anxiety.
- The Beautifully Flawed Foundation recently shared Sarah’s story, including how she became the Executive Director of the foundation, and you can check it out here: The First Surf Story – Sarah Hill.
- For more Stories of Hope from women and men who have attended the Beautifully Flawed Foundation’s retreats go here.
- Forgiveness is a huge part of Sarah’s journey and we would both encourage you to consider my course on Forgiveness because when we forgive we are set free.