Amanda Crabb remembers the moment as vividly as a mother recalls her newborn’s first gasp for breath. It was 8 p.m. on April 21, 2010. Only minutes before, her children’s nanny had sent a routine text message saying all was well. But now their nanny was calling. Amanda picked up the phone, and the voice on the other end reported what she never wanted to hear. Eva, her 3-year-old daughter, had fallen from the window of a second-story apartment.
As the house lights dimmed in Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, Amanda and her husband Aaron sprinted toward the exit. Outside, emergency sirens pierced the damp spring air, and the Crabbs were faced with every parent’s worst fear: those howling sirens were meant for their baby, the girl with white-blond hair like her mother’s. Aaron and Amanda didn’t know much—only that the nanny had said Eva (whose name means “life”) was screaming and covered in blood.
Panicked, they arrived at Vanderbilt University Medical Center before the ambulance and, still clad in tuxedo and evening gown, paced beneath the flood of waiting room lights. When the emergency vehicle arrived, they were unprepared for what came next—their little girl writhing under restraints. “Get these seatbelts off of me!” Eva cried in confusion as the paramedics wheeled her through the hospital’s eerie sterile hallways. In order to determine the extent of her injuries, the doctors needed Eva calm enough to undergo a CT scan. But as nurses administered more medicine, she became increasingly agitated and hysterical.
In the trauma unit, the Crabbs immediately began praying for the doctors and nurses, asking God to guide their hands. But Eva still wouldn’t settle down. The medical staff decided to leave the parents alone with their child in hopes that without the usual emergency room pandemonium, she might be comforted.
To help Eva relax, Aaron and Amanda asked if she wanted them to sing. The answer was yes. At just three, she’d been singing since she could form words. “Which song do you want us to sing, honey?” Amanda asked, naming Eva’s favorite worship tunes. She wanted them to sing Chris Tomlin’s “We Fall Down.” The Crabbs, who were in the running for a Dove Award that very night for their first album as a Christian music duo, were being asked to give their most important performance yet: singing a song of praise under the harsh ER lights, accompanied only by the quiet symphony of medical equipment.
We fall down; we lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus. The greatness of Your mercy and love at the feet of Jesus. We cry holy, holy, holy.
When they reached the chorus, both Mom and Dad felt the presence of God pressing in. His Spirit seemed tangible. Feeling as if thousands of angels had crowded into the room, they kept singing.
They knew that no matter the outcome, God would still be holy. He still was God.
We cry holy, holy, holy.
With her parent’s voices harmonizing in worship and heart rate monitor humming steadily, Eva fell into a peaceful sleep.
Onstage, the Crabbs have a unique view. “When we’re leading worship and looking out at the crowd, we can see devastation, hardship, and worry on people’s faces,” Amanda said. She and Aaron know that the people in the audience are wrestling with everyday life, just as they themselves are: maybe they have relationships in need of mending; family members might have cancer; perhaps they are battling depression or struggling to overcome addiction. Whatever the circumstance, the singers know that the people to whom they are ministering need a God who is mighty.
And through music and Scripture, Amanda and Aaron encourage them not to serve God because of what He can do for them but to simply praise Him for who He is: powerful, loving, sovereign. “That’s when He does His greatest miracles—when you acknowledge Him over all,” Aaron said. “The situation may never change, but when you worship Him, it changes your perception of the situation.”
As people turn their eyes to Jesus, it’s as if a wave of hope breaks over them. “You see their countenance change when they focus on God instead of the devastation of their situation,” he said. “When they take Christ to their place of fear and doubt, they see God is greater than any need or problem they will face, that He is the answer.”
With hearts and voices lifted in worship, the Crabbs knew He was the answer that night in April. “We were compelled—we had no choice—to put aside the fact that we didn’t know the outcome of our daughter’s situation,” Amanda said. They didn’t know what the next day would hold, let along the next five years. Nor did they know whether Eva would walk again, or if she’d even live. But Aaron and Amanda had hope.
As they worshipped in the ER, Aaron remembered a dream from years earlier, before Amanda was pregnant with Eva.
In it, the couple had a daughter with glacier-blue eyes and delicate blond hair—and the child was 10 years old, not 3 like the tiny girl whose crumpled body lay before them. 10. Aaron asked God why He’d chosen to impart a vision of Eva when she was older. Did this mean she might survive?
Holding on to the undying hope parents feel for an injured or prodigal child, Aaron and Amanda continued to sing. “We could only lift up our hands and tell God how holy He was,” Amanda said. “How strong, merciful, and big.”
So that’s what they did. They knew that no matter the outcome, God would still be holy. He still was God. “He is who He is, regardless of the situation,” Amanda said. “And we worshipped Him like it was the only thing we had left.”
Because Eva was now peaceful and calm, technicians were able to get a CT scan, which showed she had no internal damage. The doctors delivered the good news that despite a 15-foot free-fall onto a concrete slab, her spine was perfect, her neck intact. Amazingly, the air-conditioning unit she landed on left her in need of only cosmetic fixes. In the quiet hours of the night, plastic surgeons stitched the gash on her head and reattached her lip where it had torn from her jawbone. Aaron and Amanda would see their daughter walk again just a few hours later. When Mom, Dad, and Eva left the hospital the next morning to reunite with their other children, the doctors said they and the family had experienced a miracle.
“As Christian musicians, we always talk about the ‘sacrifice’ of praise and worship. But until that moment [in the ER], we had no idea what the true heart of worship was,” Amanda said. “Eva is a testament of what God can do when you are obedient to Him and when you revere Him in Spirit and truth. That’s where we learned the true sacrifice of worship.”
It’s been more than three years since that lesson was powerfully taught. No matter what their circumstances are, the Crabbs continue to invite God into their joy, fear, and suffering. And they hope that Eva’s story will inspire their children, audiences, and whoever else hears it to worship Him simply for who He is.
Photography by Danielle Smith