EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve all been there at least once in our lives; being hurt by someone we love and experiencing different trials. Whether you’re currently experiencing a bad breakup, separation or are just completely baffled as to why you’re going through circumstances outside of your control, take heart. There is hope to be found in Jesus. We pray you are encouraged by Jackson’s testimony.
When I was 20 years old, I was committed to a Christian girl and we loved each other. After two years of dating, she started to get depressed and I severely underestimated how serious it was, while overestimating how much I could help her myself. When I finally tried to step away so that she could seek help without being a distraction, she nearly took her life in her dorm before an RA and I broke down the door.
For weeks, I was terrorized by the guilt of thinking I killed my soulmate and best friend. When you’re in love and you can’t sleep at night, you have a lot of time to pray and wander through the valleys searching for God. With dry bones and a broken body, I did just that. The gravity of love, and the devotion God intends for us in our lives toward one another hit me all of a sudden, yet still gently enough for me to embrace the revelation. Although God spoke volumes to my heart regarding forgiveness, devotion, and surrendering, I was still young enough to be impatient without ever knowing it.
After 45 days, I reconciled with the woman I felt God had called me toward, and we resumed a relationship that (in all honesty) still needed time to heal. In earnestness, I swore before we graduated college that we’d spend the rest of our lives together, and my sweetheart accepted. But the flaws in our impatience revealed itself in a horrible fashion, when she gave her body to someone else behind my back only weeks later. The anger, confusion, and loneliness led to painful sequence for the next two months, in which I ultimately ran away from God and hardly felt a desire to be pure ever again.
Two years later my best friend in college, who was a keeper and champion to my faith, died young from cancer. Thanks to the forgiveness and the sincerity of my collegiate fellowship, I was able to find solace in my friends while I rekindled my faith in Jesus Christ.
Three years later, having the fire in my heart stoked to an all-time high, I moved to Nashville, TN where I met an elegant, faithful woman. From the beginning, to our first kiss, to our silly moments messing up homemade pretzels, I truly felt God gripping my shoulders, telling me “This is the love of your life.” Ten months later, with my heart fully convicted, I opened up a new bank account so that I could start setting aside money for the wedding I saw in our future. Then without warning, the love of my life announced she wasn’t “at peace” with our relationship, and insisted we spend time apart. My best friend, my love, drove a pain deep in me that I’m still dealing with every day when I open my eyes.
Time after time, I’ve endured more tribulations than anyone I personally know in my life. As a result, I’ve had battles with anxiety, depression, identity crisis, and anorexia. After the double dose of heartbreak I had in college followed by my best friend’s death, I honestly believed that the worse parts of my life were over, and that anything else I may encounter would be trivial compared to that chapter. I was so wrong. No matter how old we get or wiser we may become, we are still at the mercy of the Lord and his plans for our lives.
Earlier this week, I woke up with a severe bout of depression I couldn’t shake. Sitting at work, I felt a soft reminder in my heart of a story in Genesis of a man who underwent betrayal and suffering for years. Joseph was a man with God in his heart, who was sold by his brothers into slavery, and then wrongly thrown into prison after remaining steadfast in his purity. Sound familiar? At some point in our lives, there has been a time when we’ve felt betrayed or persecuted when (at the time) we’ve remained pure in our hearts and actions. “It’s not fair….why is this happening to me? I don’t deserve this.” It’s all been said before, even though those words will never bring us peace.
While I was reading about Joseph in Genesis 37:50, I took note of his loyalty to God, and his good will towards other while he remained a slave, in addition to his time in prison. Joseph changed lives! He made the lives of those around him better! Undergoing harsh tribulations, he could’ve been furious with God and cursed those around him, but he didn’t. He interpreted the dreams of men around him, and he helped save the entire country of Egypt from 7 years of famine. Joseph was in jail for YEARS for a crime he never committed, and through his faith to God he was released and given glorious opportunities. Even after enduring such horrible tribulations, Joseph said the same brothers who betrayed him, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
While we may not all undergo the same trials, the feeling of suffering, betrayal, loneliness, and wandering befalls us one way or another. Although I’m as convicted as ever that I will marry this woman who’s transformed my life before God, only He can set my destiny. There are still times I feel a feverish depression or a nagging loneliness trying to chain me down, but I do believe in the love of our Lord, and I do remember the devotion of Joseph during his struggles. Even when my heart aches for what I once had, I remind myself that Joseph changed lives and helped save a nation, all WHILE enduring his trials. So can I, and so can all the lonely gogetters hurting right now.