Shark-Victim Surfer Girl’s Simple Faith

Written by Rusty Wright

Bethany Hamilton looks like any fun-loving young American teenager – bright eyed, smiling, excited about what she enjoys doing. She’s athletic, attractive, trim, tanned and blonde – qualities that in this culture can open many doors.

But Bethany faces a special challenge that many her age do not. She is missing her left arm just below the shoulder, lost to a shark attack while surfing in Hawaii last fall. The 1,500-pound tiger shark also chomped a huge chunk from her surfboard. She’s fortunate to be alive.

Bethany, who lives on Kauai, was the state’s top-ranked female amateur surfer before the attack. Such a loss might seem devastating. USA TODAY reports that Bethany seems undismayed. Merely three months after the mishap, she was surfing competitively again. She aims to be among the world’s best surfers.

Rather than hiding her left arm under clothing, she displays it in tank tops and calls it “Stumpy.” When her prosthetic turned out to be too light in color to match her suntan, she nicknamed it Haole Girl, slang for a non-Hawaiian. She peels tangerines by holding them between her feet and using her right hand.

How to account for her bright spirits? Determination and dedication seem part of her makeup. But is there something more?

Her dad gives a clue. “She’s not suffering,” Tom Hamilton told the newspaper. “Somehow God gave Bethany an amazing amount of grace in this. I am in awe. She never says, ‘Why me?’.”

Bethany confirms her father’s analysis: “This was God’s plan for my life, and I’m going to go with it. … I might not be here if I hadn’t asked for God’s help.”

This surfer girl’s simple faith astounds observers. She has become a media darling – with TV appearances on Oprah, 20/20 and Good Morning America. Book and movie offers have come. She threw out the first pitch for baseball’s Oakland Athletics on opening day. Through it all, her family ties remain strong.

Her optimism echoes that of an early follower of Jesus, Paul, whose life-experience log included unjust imprisonments, beatings, stoning, shipwrecks and social ostracism. He was convinced that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him.”

Life can throw many curve balls: serious illness, accidents, terrorism, domestic strife, employment hassles, theft and more. Answers to “Why me?” and “What to do?” are often complex. Accompanying feelings of fear, confusion, grief or despair should not be ignored or minimized.

But perhaps a perspective that includes God in the picture can be a starting place for coping. Maybe the surfer girl’s belief and trust have something valuable to say to a society filled with pain and risk.

During a winter New York City media tour, Bethany spontaneously gave her ski jacket to a homeless girl sitting on a Times Square subway grate, then called off a shopping spree, citing her own material abundance.

Something very significant is happening in this young athlete’s life.

Have you been waiting, hoping, longing for something significant to happen in your life? Today could be the day!

Take a look at your life. How would you describe it?

Contented? Rushed? Exciting? Stressful? Moving forward? Holding back? For many of us it’s all of the above at times. There are things we dream of doing one day, there are things we wish we could forget. In the Bible, it says that Jesus came to make all things new. What would your life look like if you could start over with a clean slate?

Living with hope

If you are looking for peace, there is a way to balance your life. No one can be perfect, or have a perfect life. But every one of us has the opportunity to experience perfect grace through a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.

Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? You can pray it right now, and Jesus Christ will come into your life, just as He promised.

Is this the life for you?

If you invited Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you and that you have eternal life. As you learn more about your relationship with God, and how much He loves you, you’ll experience life to the fullest.

6 Responses to “Shark-Victim Surfer Girl’s Simple Faith”

  • Lils says:

    So encouraging.

  • blue-j says:

    WOW!!! How wonderful!! People usually are full of pain hurt hardships that leads to the “down side”. When i read or hear about someone that this has happened to….i am truly amazed again!!! :) I have seen the peviews of the movie on the tv but i cant go to it so i will wait till it comes out on dvd which i hope will be soon. Sometimes i really wonder why we dont hear more great things like this on the news??? News should be about allthings God miracles everything. I used to love the water…i mean it is part of my heart..and body too. I really miss it! LIke some other things though that is no longer an option for me..i only get to be in the water when i sleep…which is way cool but sometimes it is full of terror too. It must take a whole bunch of courage to be able to go back in the water after what happened to her. I can only hope i can be that couragous now!!!


  • Ranger100 says:

    Dear Friends,

    Though we may not see it at the moment, though we may not understand it, embrace this truth with Faith and Praise: “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love” Him. God is Good and He is Faithful and you will see and understand. Honor Him with trust by Faith and He will open your eyes to to see it.


  • joyce says:

    with Bethany’s story, my mind was cleared. It is really cool to put God always in my mind. Thankk you for this really inspiring story. My heart was awakened.

  • Gracetr says:

    I was so encouraged by this story….. there is hope and to see that God does still have a plan for everyone’s life after tragic events. SO ENCOURAGING!!! thanks for sharing this story.

  • Brian Pedro. says:

    The testomy of Betheny was very touching .I felt so down this morning i dont even wanted to go to work .I have so many problems with my car that has broken down .And i felt so down because i dont have the money to fix it but after reading her ordeal i became strong again .
    Kind regards.

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