There was a point during 2009 when I called it my year of hell.
Here’s how my calendar stacked up:
- January: There was a death in my extended family.
- February: I lost a job I thought was going to change my life. (It did but not like I expected.)
- March: My father died.
- April: I was told I might die relatively soon.
And on and on it went.
It’s important to note that this snapshot does not reveal the depth and breadth of the emotional turmoil that touched every aspect of my life at that time.
These events shook me to the core and kept shaking me. They were so personal – as were my reactions to them – that it’s hard to explain how painful it was. I can talk about the events. But I can’t communicate the emotional impact because of my relationship with my father and with God.
My angst was deeply wired in a perspective of who I was, an idea of who God is, and a concept of what faith in God should mean. But my real life was in conflict with those strongly felt beliefs.
In 2009, I was 15 years into a self-professed belief in God. Fifteen years of reading the Bible, leading Bible studies, and seeking knowledge. I can admit now that I might have learned the Bible, but I did not know God. I did not know Jesus, and I did not know what faith really was. Being hardheaded, self-absorbed, and sure of myself, God’s Word hadn’t gotten through to me.
But God did… in 2009.
When the hits kept coming, I would ask, Why is God doing all these things to me?
I know now what God was doing: He was teaching me. The best thing I can say about 2009 is that I finally learned the lesson.
Late that year, I wrote the following. I reread it periodically. While it might first stir up the pain of that year, it ultimately reminds of something more meaningful.
I asked God for achievements so I could “glorify Him.”
He took away my achievements so I could focus on my relationship with Him.
I asked God to use me in a ministry to do great things for many people.
He showed me the best ministry is one-on-one.
I asked God for a job so my family would be happy.
I was given adversity so I could develop wisdom.
I asked God for strength to persevere.
I was humbled and made weak to adopt a daily dependence on God.
I asked God for security.
He told me not to worry about tomorrow because security comes from Him alone.
I asked God to answer my prayers and to move me beyond this season.
He showed me I am complete because of Jesus – and He left me in the same season.
I asked God, “Why?”
He said, “Why not? My ways are not your ways. My thoughts are not your thoughts. Be still and know that I am God!”
My faith is raised daily like manna from heaven.
When I need a lot, I have all I need. When I need less, I have none left over.
I asked for many things.
I got nothing I asked for and everything I needed.
I found myself in a place I didn’t choose.
I now can’t imagine any other place can be better than where I am.
I no longer call 2009 my year of hell. It’s my year of God!
Perhaps God is answering your prayers but you don’t recognize it because the answers don’t seem to be what you want. Perhaps they are what you need: to grow in faith, relationship, and dependence on Him.
Is God not answering your prayers? Or are you not listening?
Churches, friends, and groups like the DFW Technology Prayer Breakfast keep asking those questions. Please consider volunteering for our annual event on Friday, Oct. 5 and find good answers with us. #DFWTechPB #FaithatWork
Jeff Clement is committee chairman of the Dallas/Fort Worth Technology Prayer Breakfast.