Just days after a tiger shark amputated her lower right arm, Tiffany Johnson was in her Concord, North Carolina, home settling in for her daily devotion.
A portion of Psalm 18 was the featured verse, but she wanted to see the entire text, so she grabbed her Bible.
As she read, tears filled her eyes. Gratitude washed over her. Nearly the entire passage paralleled her recent testimony.
I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.
The pangs of death surrounded me…
The Scripture transported her back to Friday, June 2. That’s when the shark attacked her while she snorkeled with her husband James in the Bahamas. Snorkeling is something the couple first started doing eight years ago. They fell in love with it during their honeymoon in Maui, and they’ve always dreamed of one day seeing Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
This time, as part of a cruise excursion, they were exploring one of Nassau’s popular coral reefs. Tiffany was captivated by the beauty of God’s creation when she felt something bump into her.
Still underwater and breathing through her snorkel tube, she calmly turned her head to the right and locked eyes with the shark. The massive steel-gray creature floated quietly. His black beady eyes occasionally darted; his unflinching jaws clamped tightly around her arm.
Tiffany didn’t feel pain, and she didn’t panic, a response she now attributes to God giving her a “sound mind” in the midst of peril 〈 2 Timothy 1:7). A reel of her life began to flash before her eyes. Quickly the mother of three pushed those memories back down and turned her thoughts to survival. The shark thrashed, attempting to pull Tiffany further underwater.
The snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried out to my God.
Tiffany snapped the remainder of her arm loose, ditched her snorkel gear and started swimming with her left hand back toward the small boat. “Help me Jesus,” she screamed as a massive blood trail followed her. She swam and prayed and swam and prayed.
He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears. …He parted the heavens and came down; …He sent out His arrows and scattered the foe
The Peace of the Lord
Looking back, Tiffany firmly believes God intervened, restraining her attacker as well as any predators likely lingering nearby. Experts told her these sharks hang out together. She is especially grateful when she considers her husband, detained briefly by sea sickness, jumped back in the water to help her to safety.