“Triumph through Tragedy,” the Real Women, Real Talk event held on Zoom and Facebook in May and hosted by Michelle Hill, Bermuda Conference Women’s Ministries leader and pastor of the Pembroke church, was by all accounts a smashing success.
More than 300 individuals logged on to hear Tricia Wynn-Payne, a pastor at the Conant Gardens church in Detroit, Michigan, credit prayer, praise, and thanksgiving as being integral to her recovery from sudden tragedy. Also, on the panel were Hermine Graham, clinical psychologist and psychology consultant in Birmingham, England, and Simona Mills-Pitcher, a chaplain, Bermuda Conference Youth Ministries associate director for teens, and an adjunct teacher at Bermuda Institute.
In 2017, Wynn-Payne entered a hospital in Detroit, Michigan, as an outpatient for exploratory surgery. Hours later, she awoke in ICU, fighting for her life. She became septic during the surgical procedure, when a doctor accidentally perforated her small bowel, causing the contents of her intestines to spill into her abdomen.
“When I looked at my body, I didn’t recognize myself,” says Wynn-Payne. “I had blown up from 135 pounds to 200 pounds. I was on oxygen, I couldn’t eat, and, at times, I felt as if I wanted to die.” But then she declared, “I looked up and realized there is still more of life to live. I said to God, ‘Lord, I want to live.’ When I chose to live, things started to change for me, and I knew that I would be okay.”
Discharged from the hospital after one month, her journey to recovery was difficult. She acknowledged that she became depressed at times. “But I focused on God’s Word rather than my feelings. I played gospel music non-stop, and the words of the songs refocused my attention.” Wynn-Payne encouraged online viewers to “choose not to stay depressed. Determine that your pain will not be wasted, and accept the reality that God can repurpose your pain. Choose to live and remember what God has done in the past; and keep your mind barricaded by praise and thanksgiving.”
When asked, Where is God when the doctor makes a mistake? Wynn-Payne responded, “God is always there. James 1 gives us instructions on how to handle life when things happen. Believing that God has a purpose for what I went through is enough for me. It hurt going through it, but I still believe that God was there.”
Hermine Graham explained, “It’s not the event that causes distress; it’s about the perspective we take that determines how we process it and how we overcome it. If we attach a meaning that this is the worst thing that has happened to me, that my life will never get better, and that every tragedy that is going to happen is going to happen to me, then what we do is anticipate and look out for tragedy. If you focus on just the loss, you lose sight of what did survive.” She added, “The idea of triumph through tragedy is not the end. Sometimes we bear the memories, the physical ties, the consequences, but it’s a continual journey.”
“The reality is that tragedy comes. It’s the ebb and flow of life,” says Michelle Hill. “But we must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and never underestimate the power of prayer in getting us through tragedy. Triumph through; press through. God can bring beauty out of the ashes.”
Paulette Newell, a viewer from London, England, says, “All I can say is praise and thanks to God for such an inspiring program. God bless the presenters that they may continue to make a difference in the lives of women who need help to free them from whatever circumstances they find themselves in.”
Tricia Wynn-Payne has chronicled her journey from tragedy to triumph in her book The Fight for My Life. In sharing her narrative, she hopes the pain she experienced will not be wasted, but will instead “advance the restoration of individuals facing adversity.”