#183 Goodness in the Pain

 Photo by Trevor Rapp

Two realities can be true at the same time. At this point in my life, I am experiencing deep pain and unexplainable joy. My husband and I long for a child but are experiencing infertility and miscarriage. My pain is rooted in this expectation I had for my life, thinking I would already have children. While the unexplainable joy is attributed to my relationship with Jesus. When I get out of the cloud I am living under, I see the abundant blessings I have in Jesus; and for that, my soul rejoices!

I want to share my story because people need to see the goodness of God even when we experience pain. Most of the time we praise God after we have what we want because it is easy. Rarely do you hear or see people praise Him in the pain. So, I am here to share with you Jesus while we wait, even if it is forever.

Early 2019 I found out I had a miscarriage and we had already been struggling with infertility. I really was not able to process our loss until we were supposed to be welcoming our child into this world. It took me months to recognize a child was not going to be in my arms. It also didn’t help that everyone around me was telling me they were pregnant. And I mean everyone. My heart aches for what I long for and reminds me of the emptiness in my arms. I am so thankful that even in my pain, Jesus found in me a way to rejoice with my friends and even my sister, but it did look very different. My rejoicing includes a lot of tears, difficult conversations, and being present when it is the last thing I want to do. I don’t do everything perfectly, but by the grace of God, He is teaching me how to love when it hurts. 

One verse in particular that has really spoken to me through infertility is John 15:1-2: 

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

I have been holding onto this verse in this longing because I can relate to this verse when I tender my plants. I prune my plants not because they are not growing or unsatisfied by the way they look, but to make them grow stronger, dig deeper roots, and have a firm foundation. We can get caught up in believing lies that God is taking something good from us or we have done something to deserve this. But I know God is pruning me to shape me more like Jesus, for His glory. He is showing me who He is—the Giver is more important than the gifts. I have realized and it is even harder to admit, but it is better to have Him without children than it is to have children and not have Him. 

I didn’t really understand how to be in relationship with the Holy Spirit. Infertility has made me more aware of the Holy Spirit inside of me. The same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is inside of me! How beautiful is this! God sent His Son so we could be in union with Him. Jesus humbled Himself so that I may have eternal life with Him. The Holy Spirit taught me how to become vulnerable. It took me a while, and as I started to share more of my story, the more I felt the presence of God (see 2 Corinthians 12:9-10). It is emotionally and physically exhausting, but God is using my pain to share His good news. I don’t know if or when this pain will go away, but my response can still be pure and obedient. 

This is why I want to share my story. To provide hope in Jesus! Expectations can bring pain, while reality brings Jesus. I know God is loving, and I want people to see He is just as loving and present in the pain as He is in our happiness. I don’t want people to discount the work God is doing in their life while waiting. I am only able to glorify God because the Holy Spirit is working in me. My husband and friends can comfort me—and I believe the Lord uses them to help me—but ultimately it is the comfort the Lord provides through the Holy Spirit that is sustaining me and teaching me how to be joyful in a time of pain (see 2 Corinthians 1:3).

Jesus came to bear my burden and for me to experience Him, and this pain has allowed me to fall into His arms. I have to trust Him in the unforeseen future as He is the same God before I wanted children as He is now (see Isaiah 40:28). Infertility cannot take Jesus away, and this is why I rejoice! God does not promise children but promises Jesus! The pain is deep and may never go away, but the love of God is greater, and the promise of God stands forever. So, I lay it all down at the feet of Jesus.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#138 Softening My Heart

Photo by Killian Rose

On July 25, 2015 I was sitting on a motorcycle at a stoplight when a Dodge pickup truck driven by a drunk driver hit me from behind going 45 miles per hour. I was crushed between the truck and the car in front of me. My pelvis was shattered, my colon torn in half, my liver lacerated, ribs broken, arm broken, lung punctured, and the carotid artery in my neck nearly severed. I woke up under the pickup truck in so much pain, thinking, I have to get out from under this truck. I prayed, “God help me!” I was flown by helicopter to the university hospital. The paramedics kept saying, “Stay with us, stay with us,” which made me think I was dying.

When I came out of surgery, the doctors told me that I wouldn’t be able to have kids, I couldn’t go back to college for at least two years (I was 19 years old), and I would need to go to a rehabilitation hospital for a year to learn to walk again.

On my ninth day in the hospital I was able to move from my bed to a chair. I was released to my home, not a rehabilitation hospital, but I was still healing from multiple broken bones and was not able to bear weight on my legs. I had to have help brushing my teeth, getting a shower, shaving my legs, and going to the bathroom. My mom died when I was 14 and at the time of the accident my father was a single parent. He was happy to help me with all of the personal care I needed but I hated that he had to do all of those things for me. It was very humbling.

In October, I went back to doctor and found out that my bones were healing more quickly than expected. The doctor prescribed physical therapy and by the end of four weeks of physical therapy, I was able to walk with no severe limp. So instead of one year of inpatient therapy in a rehabilitation facility, I was able to walk with one month of outpatient therapy. In fact, this fall I hiked eight miles on a nearby mountain trail. I am so thankful to God for the remarkable healing! I was also able to go back to college in one semester instead of staying out two years.

After the accident, I experienced more than just physical healing. My mom’s death had been unexpected, a complication from a surgery. We had been so close and it was very hard for me to lose her. My dad is the pastor at our church and my mom had been the worship leader. She was also a teacher at my school. I missed her everywhere—at school, at home, at church. I felt like I couldn’t even go to my pastor for help because it was my dad and he was grieving too.

Years after my mom’s death, my dad got engaged to a woman, but I wasn’t nice to her and didn’t accept her. Accepting her meant I had to let go of my mom and I couldn’t do that. I missed her so much.

I hardened myself to protect myself from the hurt. I had closed off myself against relationships. Before the accident, I didn’t love myself and I didn’t think anyone else loved me—not even God. After the accident, so many people took care of me. There was an overwhelming sense of love and support of people rallying around me. I realized how many people loved me and that God had never stopped loving me. And despite how I had treated my dad’s fiancé, she showed me love and grace and took good care of me. I now see that my anger and bitterness had been hindering my dad and younger brother too from fully healing. Now our home is a place of real peace and it is a life-giving place to be.

Through this experience, God has softened my heart to receive and give love to others. I had internalized so much anger and hurt that it festered into external thorns. I tried to hide it and act okay, but I was hurting people. I didn’t want to accept that I hadn’t fully grieved. I had to realize the internal hurt. It was like a coffee cup with a hole in the bottom—I got all filled up on Sunday at church, but it would quickly drain out and there was no complete deliverance from my pain. I had to acknowledge the hole so that God could heal the hole and I could experience complete healing. And this is what has occurred. God is making a beautiful picture from the broken pieces.

The person driving the truck was a 20-year-old female driving on a suspended license, two times over the legal alcohol limit. Nearly a month after the accident, I was contacted by the commonwealth attorney about pressing charges. He recommended a 20-year prison sentence with the possibility of parole in 17 years. I told him I wanted to pray about what to do. I talked to my dad and the chaplain at my college. I was being asked to make this decision at 20 years of age. I wondered how I could send someone to jail for 20 years. And what if she had kids? I knew what it was like to lose a mom. I didn’t want to take a mom away from her children. But I also didn’t want her to go back on the road and harm someone else.

My chaplain talked to me about restorative justice, which is a model where the offender knows what has happened to the offended and they plan what is best for the recovering offender so that they don’t offend again. I met with the commonwealth attorney and asked about restorative justice, but he said there was nothing like that in our state. Regardless, I didn’t want her to serve a 20-year prison sentence. Instead, she was sentenced to five years of probation with six months in jail and another six months in rehabilitation and 100 hours of community service. Her conditions included random drug screening and sobriety tests and maintaining a full-time job. The attorney was shocked that I didn’t want her to be punished more severely. He said with her alcohol level and the extent of my injuries, he was surprised that he wasn’t working with the surviving family in a homicide case.

Fast forward a year, and I got a text from my dad that the woman had been called in for her random drug screening and she drove to the courthouse with a suspended license and drugs in her system. Since she violated her conditions, she would have to go to jail for 20 years. I had gotten a lot of compliments from people about the grace I had shown her and I told them it was God impressing upon me to do this. But when she violated her conditions, I got so angry with her and thought she spat on my grace. And then I realized we do this with God—we spit on His grace. I have done this. It was humbling to realize this and it helped me to be less angry and more compassionate.

Even though I still suffer physical pain and limitations, God has brought good from the accident. Because I lost my mother, I have been able to comfort other young people who have lost a parent from a place of really knowing how difficult it is. I have personally experienced great physical healing, but the greatest healing has been the spiritual restoration of self-worth that is not based on me following handed-down religious traditions, but instead is based on God’s grace. I am confident that there is nothing I can do to undo His love for me. 

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#131. Every Day Is A Gift

 Artwork by Lily Murphy

I was raised in a loving Christian home and baptized as a young girl. The Lord was always part of our family. This was a great blessing, but I sometimes felt as though I didn’t really have a powerful testimony because I didn’t have a big conversion story where I could say my life changed in a moment.

All my life I wanted to be a wife and mom. My husband and I were blessed with two daughters. On my 30th birthday, I found out I was pregnant with our third child. We were very excited about it. When we had our 20-week ultrasound, I immediately could tell there was something wrong because the technician kept going over the heart of the baby. Then the doctor came in and told us the baby had something wrong with his heart. We were whisked to a high-risk OB who confirmed the diagnosis of the heart problem. Up to this point in my life, I had never experienced the anticipation and fear of the unknown. From the beginning of our son’s diagnosis, the Lord was teaching me—drawing me to Him in a way I had never been drawn. I had never really had to rely on the Lord before—never really experienced a tragedy or serious illness. I can remember thinking it would be easier to miscarry . . . then I wouldn’t have to deal with the pain of the baby being born with the heart problem. I shared this with my dad, and told him that I wished I could be the child and didn’t have to deal with the situation. I wished that I could climb into my dad’s arms and he would take care of it for me. I have come to realize that my heavenly Father WAS taking care of it for me—providing comfort, strength, and perspective all along the difficult journey.

The very next Sunday after we found out about our baby’s condition, we sang the song “He Knows My Name” at church.

I have a Maker

He formed my heart

Before even time began

My life was in his hands (by Tommy Walker)

God gave me this song at just this time to comfort and reassure me. It was almost as if my son was saying this to me. It gave me a great peace.

The doctors gave us three options for our son: compassionate care, heart transplant, or surgeries to repair. We chose the surgeries, all the while praying for a miracle. We knew that God could heal him if He would choose to. One of my friends gave me great perspective when she said, “No matter what, God will heal him—either on this earth or he will be in heaven where he will be completely healed.” I just had to trust God with him.

Our son, Jacob, was born September 5, 2004. He weighed 8 pounds 9 ounces and looked totally healthy—perfect. As the doctor had predicted, he did not have a left ventricle in his heart and some of the arteries that supplied his heart were much smaller than normal. His surgery kept being put off because they thought he had an infection. It was delayed and delayed—which gave us more time with him—and finally it was decided he would have the surgery on September 14. He was wide awake when they took him back. He looked right into our eyes before they took him, and it was like he was saying, “It’s going to be okay.” I believe he died during surgery. After surgery, he was attached to machines on life support—his heart and lungs weren’t working.

The next morning the cardiologist explained that our son’s heart was dead. After much information and prayer, my husband and I decided we would let him go. We called all of our family in, we surrounded him and held him, and we prayed and sang. The family left and my husband and I stayed. Jacob’s little hand was wrapped around my husband’s finger and they turned off life support. The decision to take him off life support was difficult—it was and yet it wasn’t—because of how we felt about his quality of life and because we weren’t afraid of letting him die. There is a mural at our church with the image of big hands with little children’s hands in them and the words, “Given to you, to be brought back to me.” In other words, our children are not our own. They are given to us by God who has entrusted us with their care. God gave us the gift of peace to release Jacob and not be afraid of his future. We knew he was safe. Nothing that this world has to offer can bring the kind of hope that God has given us.

It was a very empty feeling leaving the hospital knowing you should be leaving with a baby but you are leaving that little body there. You feel like life has just stopped and yet it keeps going for everybody else. Time just stood still. It felt like everyone should pause with us, but it was our grief, our pain—and life went on around us. I don’t remember those next few days very well. The choir sang “You Raise Me Up” at the funeral which had become the anthem of my heart. My husband wrote a song for Jacob and sang it at the service. I spoke and our dads prayed.

The comfort that came from the Holy Spirit and from fellow believers that He placed in our life was such a blessing. And eventually we were able to comfort others. About a year later, I shared my testimony about our son at church. There was a man who was visiting who came up afterwards and said his wife was pregnant and that their son had same the same heart defect our son had (what are the chances he would visit our church the day I shared about Jacob!). I gave him our phone number and said if his wife ever wanted to talk, to call. A few months later the man called and said their little fellow had been born and was not doing well. He asked if I had any words to help? Out of nowhere, I felt the Holy Spirit say, “You need to go see them.” In all of my life, I have never heard a clearer message from God. I called my husband and told him and we went. We talked with them and prayed with them and prayed over their son and then we left. We didn’t hear from them for a while—but then when their baby was 39 days old he died. They called and asked if my husband would do the funeral and a 12-year friendship began. The Lord connected us through loss—not expected, but a blessing. It was helpful for us to see a purpose in our pain.

In March of 2006, we were blessed with another son. He has been such a joy to us and I can’t image life without him. If Jacob had lived we might not have had him. I’m thankful that I was blessed to have them both.

I am a nurse and often my patients ask how many kids I have. I say “Three here and one in heaven.” This opens up conversations and allows me to witness and share our story. You just never know how your story will impact others. Because of Jacob, I now have a connection with people who have suffered loss. We can relate to one another and offer hope and encouragement to one another.

God got us through, and even though His plan was hard, there was goodness in it. I have come to know a loving heavenly Father who in our times of trouble wants to comfort us and let us know we are not alone. He doesn’t delight in seeing us in pain but he sees a purpose behind it that sometimes we don’t. He sees the whole picture and we don’t. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord (Isaiah 55:8). 

Sometimes even now I will just be hit with grief and I will be so sad but at the same time so thankful. It is true that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. I would never want to have that time with Jacob taken away even though it was painful. I have learned every single day is a gift. Knowing that not a single one of us is guaranteed tomorrow, helps me appreciate all the beauty, love, and joy that each day brings. 

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#49 A Heart Overwhelmed With Hope

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

Hope is frightening. It is often met by pain and disappointment and it is one of the biggest risks we are asked to consistently take. Hoping for love when you feel unlovable. Hoping for financial provision that seems all too impossible. Hoping for the salvation of a family member who wants nothing to do with God. Hoping for your dreams to one day finally become reality.

After graduating from college, I found myself lost with no idea what direction I was going. I stopped believing for the best. I numbed myself to dreaming, to hoping. There was pain that came from having expectations, only to see them shattered or unmet. So I retreated back to my own personal limits, my own well-kept yard of not risking. And my heart began to wither. I could feel it slowly losing heartbeats. I let go of dreams, desires, expectations—and the vibrant life in my heart began to dull. I couldn’t feel God and I couldn’t hear Him clearly. I felt abandoned and dry, like I would die of hunger for Him.

Hope seemed all too risky. And keeping my heart safe within its walls was surely the way to keep it unharmed, right? Why love? Why hope for the impossible best? Why hold on to dreams that are so far out of reach? My heart continued to fight back to Him. But God, always concerned for the health of my heart, never stopped pursing it. I felt everything I wanted to feel as He drew my heart to hope again. As he found me at my breaking point—weary, anxious, desperate. He breathed life into my heart and it began to beat like never before.

Faith sees, and hope feels. Faith sees where there is nothing yet to see (Hebrews 11:1). It sees the invisible and looks past impossibility. Whereas hope—hope feels it coming. It’s that lurch in your soul. I don’t know what it is, and I don’t know when, but I feel it coming. Something amazing is coming. I feel the provision. I feel the longing in my soul and I will not numb it with doubt. I will let the longing deepen. When I choose not to hope that there is the best in store for me, my heart becomes sick. And hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12). That must mean choosing to hope gives my heart life. That day it hit me. That day I will never forget. I felt God faithfully wrap His arms around me. And I gasped for air. Alive. I felt so alive. My heart began pumping again. He had overwhelmed my heart with HOPE and has continued to every day since.

Undone by my sudden lightness, I became aware of the necessity of hope. Regardless of the circumstances, regardless of how many times I had been disappointed, regardless of the impossibilities that stood before me or the lack of visible breakthrough, I had decided to choose hope. Even when it hurt. That’s the thing about hope; it’s painful more times than it’s not. And many times we are tempted to block out the thing that hurts, insisting that our life would be better without the pain. The reality is that yes, hope is painful, but it keeps us alive. We can’t numb the hunger pains and the desires for the best to come our way. So I will keep hoping. I will no longer numb the hunger pain. I will continue to let hope grow, creating a light that shines of God and His promises. I will forever choose hope that is founded on the truth and goodness of the Most Holy One. Not only has He overflowed my heart with hope, but I have felt a duty as a daughter of the King to bring everyone to hope. Our Father gives hope to the hopeless, and that is exactly what He has done for me.

Not all our stories will always turn out exactly how we dreamed them to be, and there are no promises that our lives will always be happy and without pain in this world. But one thing we can be sure of is that our God will eternally be faithful. He gives me the unwavering hope that some of the best days of my life have yet to be lived.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#30 Thankful For The Pain


Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

I am a runner, and this story is about how God used running and something else—really, someone else—to heal me from one of the greatest pains in my life. 

A little backstory…

My church has a ministry that reaches out to women—dancers in the sex industry in local strip clubs. I am a massage therapist, and in 2007 I was asked by the church to provide massage therapy for the women this ministry served. I agreed and approached it very casually. I wasn’t worried about it. After all, I had been in bars before. How different could this be?

But it was very different and made me very uncomfortable. As I was providing the massage therapy for the women, the thoughts I had were so disturbing. I wanted to stop, to leave. I thought, “Why did I agree to do this?”

And then I felt Jesus saying, “Don’t you know if I were still on this earth in flesh I would be here?”

I had been viewing the women through my eyes, but Jesus gave me His lens. It was then that I could truly see the women and my heart broke for them. A seed was planted that day and I wanted to serve them and help them. I knew I couldn’t go back into the clubs to help—I had terrible dreams for weeks after my visit—so I asked God to show me how to help.

This experience—this softening of my heart for this specific group of women—was used to prepare me for what was to come. The next year, my marriage came to an end due to my former spouse failing in various areas of sexual sin. I was devastated. We divorced, and for months, I was in a pit of despair. In the midst of all of this, I had planned to run a race but I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t eating. I wasn’t healthy. Everything was about “that thing” that had happened to me.

Finally, I felt God saying, “Let’s get the focus off of you.” I felt as though I should start running again; specifically, I felt that I should run in a race to raise money for women at the Refuge for Women, a place that provides a safe haven for sexually exploited women.

I called the director of the Refuge and told him I felt like God wanted me to run a race to raise money for the women. There was a long pause on the line and then he said, “We just had our first board meeting, and during the meeting we prayed that the Lord would press upon the hearts of ordinary people to raise awareness and money for this ministry—and then you call and tell me this!”

The Lord gave me visions that I would conduct my own races for the women at the Refuge and put teams together to race and even run with some of the women served by the Refuge. All of this has come to pass. Running that first race was particularly healing for me.

But there was another run—a training run—that I will never forget. I was training for a marathon and had gone to visit my parents at their farm in Ohio. I needed to run 18 miles the next morning, which proved difficult given their location and many country lanes/roads. I carefully planned my running course from my parent’s dairy farm to the little town of Bryan, Ohio, and wrote the directions on my hand.

I got to mile 15 in the little town and there was a big detour sign. I couldn’t get through. I had to choose a different road. I soon came upon a Dum Dum sucker factory. It was early Sunday morning and the parking lot was deserted. But in the distance I could see a person sitting on the concrete with their head down. As I got closer, I could see it was woman in high heels and a mini-skirt who looked like she had had a really “rough” night. I didn’t want to, but I felt God urging me to go to her. 

I took off my headphones and walked over to her, “Excuse me, are you okay?”

“No, I’m not,” she said. 

“What can I do to help you?” I asked. 

“I’m lost. My phone is broke and my boyfriend doesn’t know how to find me.” 

“How long have you been sitting here?”

“I don’t know.”

“How did you get here?”

“I don’t know.”

The factory was in the middle of a residential area. 

“Why haven’t you gone to one of the houses to ask for help?”

“Have you looked at me?”

“Well, I’m here to help you.” She used my phone to call her boyfriend and I asked her if I could stay with her until he came. She said I could. Then I asked if I could pray for her and she said yes. I prayed for her and soon her boyfriend arrived. He was very thankful. I offered them money but they said they didn’t need money. 

What are the chances that I would encounter this woman? I could have chosen many weekends to visit my parents. I could have chosen a different road at the detour. But I chose the one that led me to this woman. I believe it was God’s plan to lead me to women that represented an industry that had destroyed my marriage and nearly destroyed me—a painful reminder of a hurtful time in my life. But again, Jesus gave me His eyes and His compassion. He used this experience, this encounter with her, to heal me.

When I think about what I am most thankful for, there are so many things. Perhaps it sounds weird to say I am thankful for the pain—but I am. This current version of me is much better than the version of me before. God had a “beauty out of ashes” plan for me—and only God can come up with that kind of plan. 

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#27 Finding Fulfillment In Him Alone

 Photo by Killian Rose Photography

Over the years I’ve experienced God through the realization of answered prayers. At times I’ve felt His goodness when it was a “yes,” while other times my faith and trust in God were tested when His answer didn’t align with my own plan or desires. Sometimes, though, my favorite “God moments” have been when God really shows up. In these times, His presence is made known in such a way that it leaves me breathless, in awe, and shall I say, almost a little freaked out? These experiences are always such powerful reminders to me that my heavenly Father loves me and He hears me.

This past fall after my serious boyfriend and I broke up, I was left completely brokenhearted. I cried out to God in pain, anger, and desperation, asking Him why, and where was He. I was disappointed, confused, and not understanding God’s plan. In tears one night I decided to pull out my devotional book. It had been awhile since I had read it, but I was feeling the need for some encouragement, and honestly it felt easier to me at the time than spending time in deep prayer.  In that moment, God showed up in the way that only our faithful God can. The words leapt off the page and I knew He was there, that He had been there all along, and that He heard me. 

The words in Sarah Young’s  Jesus Calling read:

“Come to me when you are hurting, and I will soothe your pain. Come to me when you are joyful and I will share your Joy, multiplying it many times over. I am all you need, just when you need it. Your deepest desires find fulfillment in Me alone. True confidence comes from knowing you are complete in My Presence. Everything you need has its counterpart in Me.”

There I sat, sobbing and speechless. He knew in that moment it was exactly what I needed, and for that I was so grateful.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#15. The Artistry Of God

Photo by Erin E. Photography 

When I was 12 years old, it was discovered that I had an inherited disease that would eventually cause my body to become deformed. In fact, the deformation had already begun. When I was 13 years old, the doctor told my parents that my internal organs were being compressed and I must have surgery or I would die. The first surgery included the implanting of a rod and the grafting of a bone—but that surgery failed, as did the second surgery. I spent weeks in the hospital. After a third surgery, I was sent home with a cast that covered nearly half my body. I wore that hot, heavy, itchy cast for nine months—not able to shower, sit at my desk at school, or wear normal clothes. Unfortunately, after the cast was removed, the deformity continued to worsen.

Because the doctor was able to only partially correct my problem, chronic pain and embarrassment have plagued my adult years. Now, decades later, when I reflect upon the “Why?” I know that God has worked everything out for good in my life and the lives of others. I am now a health care professional and I know that I am more empathetic, compassionate, gentle, and understanding with my patients because of my own suffering.

I also believe that because I spent so much time in the hospital and recovering indoors, I developed a profound appreciation for nature. I can remember when I was first strong enough to get outside a bit while recovering from the surgeries. I walked around the perimeter of our backyard, which was separated from a farm behind us with a fence lined with trees and brambly bushes. The sky was a beautiful blue, the birds were singing, and the sun was warm on my skin. I soaked it in and experienced pure JOY and GRATEFULNESS to God. Being denied God’s beautiful creation for so long had given me new eyes and a new heart of appreciation for the beauty of nature. My eyes were opened to the artistry of God, and to this day, my eyes remain open to the wonderful free gifts we have in God’s creation.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person. 

#11. Diamonds In The Dark

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

 We all go through difficult times. Sickness, stress, pain, financial challenges, relational difficulties, loss, sadness, loneliness, grief, heartache—the list goes on. We struggle through these difficulties, crying out to the Lord for help. Out of His great loving kindness and mercy He hears us and sends us the help we need, rescuing us from our distress.

Most of our challenges are short-lived. But there are times when the Lord allows us to go through an extended season of difficulty or suffering. We cry out to the Lord like always, but this time there are no answers, no comforting presence, no immediate rescue or joyful deliverance. God seems hidden and painfully silent. Time slows down. Doubts creep in. The Holy Spirit seems far and the Enemy seems near.

It is very dark.

Having gone through numerous seasons of debilitating anxiety and depression, I am well acquainted with times of darkness. During these seasons of crushing despair, I would often cry out to God: “What is going on? Have you completely forgotten about me? Why won’t You answer my prayer? How can good possibly come out of this intense pain? Is there purpose in this darkness?”

Recently the Lord spoke to me about this dilemma of darkness. Fond as He is of using parables, He used a story to bring the message home to me. It was my story—one about a lost diamond—that had occurred over a year ago.

I was sitting on my couch that day when I happened to glance down at my hand and see that my engagement ring was empty. After searching carefully through my entire house to no avail, I decided to google “How do I find a lost diamond in my house?” There was one suggestion that kept coming up again and again: Turn off all the lights in the house and get down on your hands and knees with a flashlight and shine the flashlight across the floor. If it shines on the diamond, it will sparkle brightly and you will easily be able to spot it.

This made sense to me, and with renewed hope, I found a flashlight, turned off all the lights and started in the laundry room. Incredulously, within one minute I was holding my diamond in my hand, after seeing it sparkle vividly from underneath the dryer.

As I pondered this amazing story, I felt the Lord speak clearly to me:

“Kelly, it was the darkness that enabled the diamond to be found.”

As I let the truth of that statement soak in, I realized that indeed, I never would have found the diamond in the daylight. It was the darkness that revealed it.

Darkness, in the life of a child of God, does have purpose. Sometimes the most valuable lessons and insights the Lord wants to teach us can only be learned in the dark. Our faith—of greater worth than gold and diamonds—is being refined and strengthened during these trying times as we are conformed into the image of Jesus. Though the process is painful, God doesn’t want us to be afraid of the dark.

There are diamonds to be found in it.

I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places.

Isaiah 45:3

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.