When Good Goes Bad by Ashley TerKeurst Hodges
Have you ever been in a position where your life is going great and then all the sudden it turns upside down, unexpectedly, without warning, and you find yourself asking the question, “How did this even happen?” “Why is this happening to me?”
You always hear those stories of bad things happening to other people, but NEVER EVER think it will happen to you. I get it. That was me a few months ago.
I had just gotten married to the love of my life, David Hodges, and moved to Birmingham Alabama. I had never moved before, like ever. I lived in the same house my whole life. So, it was already an adjustment and very hard for me to move away from my family because my family is everything to me. We are all truly best friends. Only 4 short months into marriage, I found out my dad was having an affair.
"WHAT?!...” I could have sworn I was dreaming. “There’s no way this is true.” “No, like you don’t understand... I know that’s not true… my dad would NEVER do that.”
My family was always that welcoming home to all our friends. When my friends had difficult home lives or their parents were going through a divorce, or something bad was going on, my parents were always the ones taking them in, praying for them, and helping them. No matter how hard life got, my family and my parents were the one thing that never wavered. They were my safe place.
I was equally close to both my parents, but in different ways. My mom is my biggest encourager and best friend. My dad and I also had a special bond. We are like twins. Everyone always told me I was the girl vision of my dad. Not only did we look alike but our personalities are VERY similar as well. We had common interests and always bonded over athletics. I was my daddy’s girl. He calls me "Smash," a nickname he gave me when I was a little girl. My dad was my hero, my spiritual leader (for 20 years until I got married), my best friend, my coach, my boss (I worked for him at his Chick-fil-A growing up), and the only man in my life that NEVER broke my trust growing up.
As you can imagine, I was completely heart broken. But it also brought a lot of problems in my marriage. Imagine this – the father you trusted your life with for 20 years breaks your trust in the worst way possible. How the heck was I supposed to now trust David? A man I’ve only known for a little over a year.
Thankfully, David and I got great counseling, and I learned that he is not my dad and that David has never given me a reason not to trust him. But here’s the thing, my Dad's choices didn't just bring consequences into his life.... he brought very hard realities into all of our lives.
I will say this – my mom, my siblings and I are praying for a miraculous intervention from the Lord. And my dad really seems to be pursuing Jesus and His healing now, which I am thankful for... but it will be a long road with no guarantees.
I know that there are some of you reading my story who have gone through or are currently going through life-shattering pain. My heart breaks for you. I know what you're facing every day. Some days, you feel like you’re going to die because the weight of the pain feels unbearable. That’s why I’m writing this post. I want to share how I am dealing with and surviving the pain in hopes that it helps you too.
I know your heart is so heavy, and it’s a constant fight just to keep it together, but I PROMISE you’re going to be okay. You’re so much stronger than you think you are. How am I so certain? Because if you weren’t going to be okay God would never allow you to go through this without His help.
When I am in such a low place that taking just one more step is impossible, all I can do is sit in silence. Sit in silence trusting and remembering that the same God that moves mountains and speaks stars into existence, is the same God that calls me his beloved daughter. He’s putting breath in my lungs and holding my hand every step of the way. I say these words in my head over and over again, “My God has never forgotten about me nor forsaken me, and I know he’s not going to start now.” “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty. There’s NOTHING my god cannot do for you.”
When we have no more strength, we must rely on God and His strength to handle it on our behalf – and he delights in this. Now, I don’t believe God brings pain and chaos in our world, but I do think He allows it for multiple reasons.
One of the reasons being to bring him glory and shame Satan back to Hell where he belongs.
In the book of Job from the Bible, it talks about how Satan was roaming the earth, looking for someone He could test to see if they would turn from God if bad things happened (Job 1-2). God asked Satan if He had considered (testing) Job. But wait, why would God suggest that Satan test Job – one of his faithful servants? Is it because God was mad at Job or wanted him to hurt? No, absolutely not.
God suggested Job because He trusted Job. He trusted Job to stay strong through whatever trial Satan might throw his way, knowing Job would never blame God or give up on Him. God gives his toughest battles to his strongest warriors. In a way, it’s an honor to be trusted with pain because it says a lot about what God sees in you and what He wants to bring out of you. I have to remind myself that suffering is not an obstacle to be used by God, it’s an opportunity to be used by God like never before.
Where there is impossible pain, God always offers incredible power.
Where there is impossible pain, God always offers incredible power. But we must stay close to Him and trust Him. I’ve always heard about the super natural strength God gives people, but I have never experienced it like I am now. Maybe it's because I never got to a point in my life where the pain was too much. Too much to handle on my own, so I just handled it on my own rather than tapping into the incredible strength God had for me.
I get it now. I now know how powerful this kind of “God strength” is. It's in me and working through me. And it's a gift I would not trade.
So, am I okay? No, not really. But I will be! I have a God who has given me so much supernatural strength and peace, it would blow your mind. No, I don’t like this storm that I am navigating and no, I don’t like what has happened to my siblings, my mom and I. But I know Jesus is with us and that brings me so much peace.
I know we are not alone and God is in control. This helps take the burden off trying to figure out how fix this on my own. Instead of trying to figure it all out, I am committed to fixing my eyes on the One who cares and loves me unconditionally.
“So, we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things, we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever,” 2 Corinthians 4:18.
Here are the three things I must do every day to fix my eyes on the Lord:
1. Get in His word.
God will speak to us so tenderly, powerfully and perfectly through His written word. I especially love the book of Psalms in this season.
2. Worship often.
Turn on your favorite praise music (really loud) and get lost in praising God for who He is and who you are because of Him. I am determined to walk through this trial with praises, mixed with my tears, so that others can experience Jesus through me. My tears will turn into a victory for the cause of Christ.
(Here is a link to the playlist my sister, Hope Houser, made for us to listen to in this season.)
3. Look beyond.
Look beyond your pain, current circumstances and what you’re feeling right now. Find comfort in God’s truths, knowing that He uses all things for good – that there’s a purpose for your pain. In adversity, you have the opportunity to shine Christ’s light brighter and louder than ever before. The darker it gets, the brighter His light shines. The more impossible it gets, the more it becomes evident that the only answer is Jesus.
If you are going through a hard time, this is my prayer for you: I pray God gives you grace to suffer well. I pray He surrounds you with a community of love and support. I pray he gives you strength to do more than “just make it” through this season, but to shine so bright through it. I pray God increases your influence like never before. I pray that He daily gives you the faith to not stare at what’s in front of you, but to see what God sees. His view goes beyond the temporary. His view is eternal.
“I’ll be with you. I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul…Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” Joshua 1:5-9
God loves you and so do I.