For I hold you by your right hand - I, the Lord your God.
And I say to you, "Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you."
- Isaiah 41:1
The cries around my grandfather’s bedside increased once the nurse declared him dead at 3:25 p.m. on December 6, 2014. I watched as my family cried, grieved, and said goodbye to the man we all loved.
I didn’t cry. I walked away, went upstairs, and texted my best friend the news.
“Papaw is in heaven,” I texted.
Within a few minutes, my phone dinged. “Oh, Celeste! I’m so sorry.”
Unable to find a quick response, I stared at my phone trying to find the words to say.
I finally responded with a quick, “Thanks.” And I set my phone on the floor beside me.
In these few moments after Papaw’s death, I didn’t grieve; I questioned—questioned God, questioned His goodness, questioned His existence.
I had always struggled with believing God cared for me, and after my grandfather passed away, I couldn’t believe it any more. If God really cared, my grandfather would still be here—he would have attended my high school graduation, and he would have been a part of my college journey.
But he wouldn’t. Because God let him die.
This was the last straw for me. And for the next three years, I was a “closet” atheist. No one knew (except for my parents). I attended a Christian college, served in Christian leadership positions (because it looked good on a resume), and presented devotions and statements of faith effortlessly to anyone who asked what I believed.
I wore the perfect Christian mask, and I was proud of it. But at times, it could be tiring, and there were days I longed for May 10, 2019 - the day I would graduate from college, and the day I wouldn’t have to wear my mask anymore.
I was drowning. But I didn’t know it.
However, God, in His gracious, loving, merciful way, sent me a life preserver - He sent me Lane of Roses, and I was saved.
Lane of Roses and their ministry showed me that there was a God, and He loved me. But most importantly, He loved the broken parts of my life. The trials I experienced (like my grandfather’s death) were parts of my story He could use to help others come to Him.
It’s been over a year since I started living for my Savior again, and it has truly been the best year of my life. But it hasn’t been easy. In fact, it has been the hardest, trial-filled year I have ever experienced. However, now, when God allows a trial to come into my life, instead of questioning His existence, I take His hand - knowing that we will get through this trial together.
If you asked me, “Do you wish you could go back and change those three years of unbelief?”
I would tell you, “No.”
Because of those three years, I know what it is like to go through trials not believing in God, and I know what it is like to go through trials believing in God. That is an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. Because now, no matter what trials come my way, I am confident that my God is holding my hand and walking through the storm with me.
Trials are hard, but for me, they now serve as a reminder of how far I’ve come and how gracious and forgiving my God is.
Our trials are a beautiful part of our story - they are the parts that show the people around us... I am not perfect, and I struggle. But I have a God who holds my hand, and because of that, I can live a confident, faith-filled life.
1. What trials have been written in the story of your life?
2. How can you use them to show others the loving goodness of your Savior?
Abba Father, How wonderful it is to know that You hold my hand! How awesome it is to know You love me! Sometimes, the trials can feel overwhelming, but Abba, help me to remember this is a part of my story that You will use for Your glory. I trust Your plan, Abba. I trust You. Thank You for loving me so much, Amen.
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