“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand” Isaiah 41:10 (AMP).
Life can be overwhelming. At times, it seems as though there is an evil, sadistic man secretly writing traumatic scripts for our lives. I envision this beastly man cloaked in tattered, dark garments. His hair is thin and stark white. His skin is the color of ash. I see him seated in a dim, sparse room. The layer of dust that coats every surface makes the room smell musty. He sits hunched over a broken-down desk and tightly clutches his pen. His face twists and contorts in concentration as he feverishly scrawls out page after page. Only the sound of his pen scratching across paper can be heard. Amusement flickers in his beady, blood-shot eyes as he quickly skims his handiwork. A wicked smile crosses his thin lips. He takes great pleasure in authoring countless scenes filled with turmoil and heartache. His name is Misery (a/k/a Satan).
Alright, while I admit that I have what some might consider an overindulged imagination, I think you will agree with me when I say life is hard … really hard! It can also be quite disappointing and unfair. During these “testing times,” we often lose faith. Without faith, there is no hope. It is then that we begin asking the age-old questions, “why, God, why?” and “when, God, when?” I am no certainly no exception! Today, I encourage you to cling to hope. Allow me to begin by sharing with you some sage advice once told to me by my mom. “If you find yourself hanging on by a thread and quickly losing your grip, tie a knot.”
I believe the hardest part about writing is getting started. Oftentimes, writing can be a chore and I have with it a love-hate relationship. For me, writing serves as an outlet. It is a way for me to collect my scattered thoughts and put words to my feelings in hopes of making sense of them. I write to help heal my brokenness. Because it was something that I almost always did in secret, writing never caused me fear or trepidation. It is something altogether different, however, when I expose to the world my deepest thoughts and darkest secrets. Yet, I reluctantly submit in hopes that my own experiences will somehow touch others and help them deepen their relationship with God. It has taken me some time to muster the courage to write this post. Caveat … part of what I am about to share will likely shock or possibly hurt loved ones now reading.
On a Friday night not so long ago, I sat precariously on the bed while staring down at a loaded, .38 caliber handgun. Tears streamed down my face as I seriously contemplated ending my life. It would be easy, I thought … just point and pull the trigger. Ashamedly, I did not think about my loved ones. Instead, I simply thought about the mess I would create. Irrational thoughts and haunting memories threatened to overtake me. While my entire life had been riddled with heartbreak and disappointment, I had always managed to get up, dust off, and move forward stronger than before. On this night, however, I could not find an ounce of fight left in me. I was tired and I just wanted rest. I cannot adequately describe the confusion, pain, and desperation I felt in those moments.
There were many events leading up to that evening. Just months prior, I had finally given in to grieving the loss of my mom and was wading through those turbulent waters. Up until then, I think I lived in denial. While I knew she had died, I would not allow my mind to process exactly what that meant. Any time she entered my thoughts, I promptly suppressed her memory. I was again struggling with chronic pain from a debilitating, autoimmune disease I have battled since puberty. My husband and I were being crippled by financial hardships and were suffering one costly blow after another. That night, the pressure caused by our circumstances led to us having a heated argument (we almost never argue). Hurtful words were spoken and, while untrue, they could not be unheard. I felt solely responsible for our predicament. I had left my job as an attorney when we moved to Georgia for his new job. The decision to move was, of course, prayerfully made. I believed in my heart that God was going to use me in a powerful way and I was excited by the prospect. While waiting to hear from God about my next, big move, I began a home-based business and spent the year trying to make it work. That business has been only moderately successful. I earnestly sought God’s will for my life, but my prayers were met with stony silence. I felt abandoned and alone. I had lost all hope.
Something happened to me that night. As I sat on my bed staring at that gun, too hurt and ashamed to seek God, He found me in the darkness. In the midst of my torment and wailing, He caused three words to fall into my heart. Those words were, “tie a knot.” While the sentiment seems quite simple, it has had a profound effect on me. Those three words gave me the strength I needed to put down that gun and press on out of the darkness and into the light. I tied a knot.
You may be asking, “Kelli, what does that even mean?” To me, tying a knot means renewing our faith in God. It means being proactive and doing spiritual warfare by feeding our faith with God’s Word instead of feeding our doubts with the enemy’s lies. All of God’s promises are meant for “whosoever.” I am a “whosoever.” You, too, are a “whosoever” and you can never sink so low as to be out of God’s reach.
Following those events, I found myself studying Job. Some comparisons between his story and mine are uncanny. If you have not already done so, I would encourage you to study the book of Job for yourself. The Bible tells us that Job was blameless and upright in God’s eyes. He had a reverential fear of God and was the wealthiest and most revered man in the east (northern Arabia). God allowed Satan to test Job’s faithfulness, however. In one day, Job lost all of his possessions by thievery and his ten children were killed in a natural disaster. Later, he was stricken from head to toe with painful boils and disparaged by his wife and friends. While anguished, and unlike me, Job never lost faith in God.
The book of Job teaches us that suffering may occur for reasons that we do not understand unless or until God reveals them to us (see, for example, John 9:1-7). As was the case with Job, trials may come because God needs to know something about a faithful servant (Genesis 22:1-12).
The message of Job also has deep implications for our relationship with God. Trials and tribulations provide spiritual enrichment. They help build a relationship between us and God (II Corinthians 12:7-10; Hebrews 12:4-12; James 1:2-4; and 1 Peter 4:12-19). Job further confirms for us that no ironclad relationship exists between suffering and sin. In other words, just because we as Christians suffer does not mean God is punishing us for sin.
Perhaps the greatest lesson we learn from Job is that God does not have to answer to anyone for what He does or does not do. Job’s experience teaches us that we may never know the specific reason for suffering, but we must trust in our sovereign, holy, righteous God. His ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30). Since God’s ways are perfect, we can trust that whatever He does—and whatever He allows—is also perfect. We cannot expect to understand God’s mind perfectly. He reminds us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. . . . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9).
Whether we understand it or not, our responsibility to God is to obey Him, to trust Him, and to submit to His will. When we do, we will find God in the midst of our trials—possibly even because of our trials. We will see more clearly the magnificence of our God, and we will say, with Job, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you” (Job 42:5).
Friend, no matter what you are going through, God is present and ever-faithful. “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV). God has given us hope as the anchor of our souls (Hebrews 6:19). This means when we are believing in God’s promises and our minds and emotions war against us because we are tired, have waited a long time, or are facing difficult circumstances, hope keeps us anchored to His promises by faith.
While I still face many challenging circumstances and am still unaware of God’s plan for my life, God has buoyed my strength and renewed my faith. I now have hope for my future. Dare to dream! God has a perfect plan for each of us and wants us all to enjoy an abundant life (see Jeremiah 29:11).
I end with this simple, yet impassioned, plea … never give up! Even in your darkest days, tie a knot. We are never so deep as to be out of His reach. God bless you!
© 2016 by Kelli Hammond Mills. All rights reserved.