Joel Haler is an inspiration to anyone who is disabled or struggling with paralysis. The journey for people dealing with disabilities like Haler’s, which prevented him from walking, is often difficult and marred with struggles to live in a world that isn’t too quick to adjust itself to the needs of those people who are not able-bodied.
Haler, a 20-year-old, heard a pop in his back when he was working out and the pop eventually left him paralyzed from the waist down. In a world that pushes disabled people into assisted suicide and euthanasia, Haler’s faith and the medical miracle that occurred should provide hope and inspiration to many.
The Blaze features Haler’s inspiring story:
It all started last October when he was in health class doing the Insanity workout, a popular exercise routine. At first he thought nothing of the popping sound and since he had back problems since he was a child, the initial pain wasn’t all that foreign.
But then he lost strength in his legs and it became difficult to walk. Later that night, Haler went to the emergency room and doctors, unable to do much, sent him home with pain medicine.
The next day Haler says he woke up paralyzed from the waist down, with doctors unsure of what, exactly, was happening. After they reportedly found no physical damage to his spine that would cause paralysis, he was inevitably sent home in a wheelchair.
“At first I was in complete shock and I was just like, ‘Wait a minute. What just happened?’” he told TheBlaze. “I’ve never suffered that traumatic of an event. Mentally, at first I was trying to replay everything … I quickly realized, ‘I’m paralyzed. I’m just going to have to start getting used to this.’”
Despite his Christian faith, haler struggled with the disability — as doctors were unable to provide many answers. The son of a pastor initially relied on his faith to get him through the ordeal but he eventually spiraled into depression as answered became harder to find.
That’s until he met a little 4-year-old boy who inspired him to try to walk again. Here is the rest of the story:
This is the part that some will find hard to believe.
Sometime in early January, Haler said he had a dream in which he saw a big banner that simply read “J23.” He awoke confused and turned to his faith for the answers.
“I tried figuring it out and my dad alongside with me. We started looking in the Bible … at books that began with a ‘J’ and then looked at chapter 23 [in each],” Haler said.
He and his father, Pastor Eric Haler of New Covenant Worship Center, New Castle, Ind., couldn’t find anything. But then Haler said something else happened — yet another sign that helped put the pieces together.
“Literally that next week a little boy at church [named Braxton], 4 years old, came up to me and was like, ‘Joel you’re going to walk on a Thursday,” Haler recalled.
While some would have surely dismissed the child’s claim as nothing more than a silly prediction, Haler said he began thinking about the dream and then the child’s message and felt that the boy might actually be right.
“I know God told him this for a reason,” Haler said.
After hearing the boy’s prediction, the paralyzed athlete began looking at the calendar, wondering if he’d walk again on a Thursday as the child had promised.
Then, he remembered the J23 he so vividly saw in his dream and began pondering whether the “J” was a reference to a month; if so, perhaps the “23″ was the day of that month.
“I looked into June and July and of course it didn’t fall on a Thursday and that’s why my dad was like, ‘Why don’t you just take a peek in January?’” Haler recalled.
Alas, Jan. 23 would be a Thursday. Rather than hold onto skepticism, Haler said that he jumped right in and believed wholeheartedly that he would regain feeling in his legs.
Haler felt immense comfort in the days leading up to Jan. 23. And then, he claimed, “it” happened.
“I didn’t sleep at all that night. If this is going to happen, I wanted to be awake for it,” he recalled.
Around 3 a.m. on Jan. 23, Haler said he began feeling tinging in his toes. Then, pain began working its way up his legs, taking about an hour and a half to reach his hips.
“And that’s when I pinched myself, [thinking] ‘Wow this is the real deal. This is really happening right now,’” he said. “So I swung my legs and I started walking.”
Considering that he had been wheelchair-bound for three months, Haler considers it a miracle that he was able to instantly walk again.