Several years ago, when things were going downhill in my life, I started to get upset at God. I was losing everything. Several friends had abandoned me during the process. I lost my business, had a vehicle repossessed, lost my business, and had to file for bankruptcy. I cried out, “God, where are you?!? Why are you letting this happen to me? Have you abandoned me? Don’t you care that I’m losing everything?” I didn’t get an answer and I continued to lose more until I had nothing left to lose.
I didn’t think God was there in those moments. Every once in a while though, my friend and Sunday School teacher, would say, “Chris, I believe God wants me to say this to you…” While those messages were encouraging, and I believed they were from God, I wasn’t personally hearing from Him. I was doing my best to keep from getting bitter towards Him because I felt abandoned and was upset over everything I had lost. What I couldn’t see, was what I was really losing though.
I realized later that I didn’t just lose a bunch of material things and relationships, I lost my pride. God used that time to strip me of pride that was keeping me from a deep relationship with Him. I also lost my dependence on my self. Somehow I thought that everything I had in life, I had earned on my own. I forgot that God was my source and Jehovah Jireh. Through all of that, I gained a deeper faith and a dependence on God to be who He wanted to be in my life. I just couldn’t see it when I was losing the things that I thought mattered.
I Peter 4:12-13 says, “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner” (MSG). God uses difficult times to refine us. When they come, the dross in our life floats to the top and is skimmed off by God. What’s left over is pure gold. If you’re in the thick of it now, don’t quit or think God doesn’t care. He’s refining you and cleaning out the things in your life that are keeping you from Him.
It’s hard for me to believe that next week I will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the lowest point of my life. I know it seems odd to celebrate such an event, but for me, it was a turning point in my life. It was the moment when I refused to go any lower than I was and made the decision that I would claw my way out of the hole that I was in no matter how much effort it took and no matter how long it took. I’m still clawing my way out of that hole, but now I’m starting to see daylight.
Ten years ago, there was no light at the end of the tunnel. There was no hope of ever recovering from what I had been through. I was hurt, embarrassed and alone. Sure I had a few friends around me, but no one truly knew the depth of my pain or what I was struggling with. I made a conscious effort to never think about that time in my life. I felt that if I could pretend it was a bad dream, the pain would go away. I thought that if I never spoke of it again, then I could put it behind me.
I moved on with my life pretending that I hadn’t gone through a painful divorce, filed for bankruptcy, lost my business or ran away from those who cared most about me. I figured that the best way out was to start my life over fresh and new as if none of it never happened. The problem was it did happen. Underneath everything I was still a mess inside. I was still hurt to the core. I was mad at God for letting me walk through that. I was mad at others thinking my failures were somehow their fault. It all boiled down to bad decision making by me.
Once I was able to take responsibility for the things that happened, I began to move forward. It’s not easy to look in the mirror when you know the pain inside is caused by the person looking back at you. I know other people played roles in delivering the punches that knocked me down, but I made the decisions that put them there and put myself in that position. I left myself open for the gut shots that took the wind out of my desire to live or move on.
I hid the pain for over seven years as I moved on with life. It was then that God spoke to me through Dave Roever that I needed to expose the wounds and face them head on. Since that time, I have begun to share my story being open and honest about what happened. I have found healing for the wounds that were so deep. I still feel the pain like I did every time I open them up, but I know that through my wounds others can find help, hope and healing for theirs.
I don’t know what you’re facing today, but I know what it’s like to hit rock bottom and feel like there’s no way out. I know what it’s like to think that there’s only one way out of the pain and anger. I can tell you that there is another way out. I found it. It was through forgiving myself and others who hurt me. It was in finding forgiveness through Jesus for the unthinkable wrongs I’d committed. It was over the course of years, hard work, dedication and never giving up. If I can make it out of that hole, you can too.