DON’T LOSE HEART
Friends, my heart is filled with compassion and empathy for so many of you and the great trials, difficulties, and hardships that you are presently going through. Every single morning you are on my mind and in my heart. Every morning I pray for 122 of you by name and lift up your needs and great trials and hardships to God. I know many are going through some excruciating difficulties, and many are suffering great financial challenges because of the arbitrary and unjust restrictions placed on you by incompetent public officials. Many of you have watched your livelihoods disappear, your unemployment has run out, and you are trying so hard to make it, but it feels like there is no way through. My heart goes out to each one of you. I also know that these great difficulties have put tremendous stress on some of your marriages and some of you are wrestling with a feeling of hopelessness that your situation will never change or be resolved.
My sincere desire is to offer you some encouragement of heart so that you do not lose all hope in your situation. I am writing today from the unique vantage point of a senior citizen who has lived through things over the decades on a personal level that I really thought would destroy me and kill me. There were times so bleak financially that I was distraught. I had no idea how we would possibly make it another week, month, or year. Some of these real-life stories I thought might genuinely encourage you as you walk through your own dark valleys of life.
I remember the time shortly before my second child was born. A friend and I had started our own business working for a direct marketing company selling a revolutionary engine product that increased your gas mileage. The economy was very bleak and we could find no other work. While we were driving to meet a prospective customer, sitting next to my friend who was driving, I was tying my shoe when the shoelace broke, and I commented to my friend soberly, “I have no money to even buy a new shoelace!” I had to tie it in a knot. In less than a year the business failed as the company had no new products to offer, and all our business dried up! I was devastated. Yet here I am all these years later, somehow God miraculously sustained me, even though for almost 20 years I had no savings of any kind!
I remember times in my marriage when it felt like Kathy and I were not going to make it. We just couldn’t get along. We just seemed so different, and no matter how hard we tried we could not get the other to see our perspective, or understand where we were coming from. The strain at times felt unbearable. The tension felt so thick you could cut it with a knife. These weren’t just brief, fleeting moments but extended periods. I thought to myself, “I can’t endure this.” Yet here we are all these years later, closer and more in love than ever before. God miraculously changed us!
I remember the crushing weight of my daughter’s 7-year illness. The years of 17 hour days, 7 days a week that my wife and I cared for her. I remember the agonizing, painful tears she cried, and the utter helplessness I felt, and at times utter hopelessness. I remember time after time going to doctor’s appointments getting the most bizarre diagnosis from them, only to watch her health get worse and worse every day. I remember during these same overwhelming days, the transmission went out of our van, the garage door broke, the microwave broke, the water heater, furnace, and air conditioner broke completely and all had to be replaced! I had multiple flat tires on our cars. One particular night driving home in my Toyota Corolla, needing to get back home to help my wife and daughter, a deer jumped right out in front of the car, I smashed into the deer head on going 60 mph, and the car was totaled, my face was smacked, blood covered my face, I was beside the road, by myself, no cell phone, waving a white towel for someone to stop. After an hour someone stopped and called an ambulance. I used their phone to call my wife at midnight to tell her, as she was up caring for our very sick daughter, that I was just in a bad accident and totaled the car. I only had liability insurance on this older car, meaning a total financial loss!! I remember finally getting my daughter into one of the most renowned hospitals in the world in the hopes they could help, only to have them do some incredibly cruel, unjust things to us. I thought and felt at the time this was all going to crush us, and utterly destroy our lives. I remember thinking, “God, after everything else, how could you allow such terrible injustice to occur to us!?!?” On top of that, her care was now often costing $4-6 thousand dollars a month out of pocket! Often the more we prayed it would get better, it actually got worse, day by day! Our faith was severely tested, tried, and so very weary. I could go on and tell you more about this situation, but you would have a hard time believing it, though it is all true. It was excruciating, vexing, extremely painful, and it sometimes felt we would be in this nightmare forever! I thought, “Oh God, I cannot go on!” Yet here I am, a decade later. God brought us through what was then our darkest and most difficult years imaginable.
I remember in 2010, after 7 years, my daughter’s health was finally getting better. It was 2013 now and my daughter, who had been so sick, was getting married! It is an astounding story! We were all euphoric! It was incredible. For all our family the wedding was like a heavenly celebration of all God had done and catharsis of all we had been through. 3 months after the wedding I was speaking at a conference again in Florida. I got a call from my wife telling me my daughter, who had just gotten married, was hit by a drunk driver. Their car totaled, and my daughter was hurt. Indeed she was very hurt, and it unleashed more pain, agony, suffering, and again, I was overwhelmed by what was happening. I remember telling God, “How could you allow this to happen? I can’t take anymore, please God stop all of this! Yet here I am all these years later. God once again, beyond what I can even fully describe, sustained us, and brought us through to the other side.
I remember trial after trial after trial that my adult children were suffering and going through. One daughter almost died from a massive hemorrhage 3 weeks after the birth of her baby. Another child suffered through one grave injustice after another. A daughter in law almost died in childbirth. A grandchild was sick and suddenly stopped breathing and the ambulance had to be called. Yet here I am all these years later, still clinging to God.
Then, as if all these were not enough, 2018 unleashed the worst of them all! A ferocious, wicked, brutal injustice on me and my family and destroyed all my work of 32 years. The friends I had loved, and served, and gave my life for turned their backs on me, treacherously betrayed me, lied about me, and abandoned me and my family. The consequences have been beyond what most of you who know us, realize, or understand. It felt like the final crushing blow that God had allowed to come down upon us, and I thought this time, “It is all over. I am now completely ruined.” I had times of sorrow and fear so deep that I shook and sobbed, and could not get up off the floor. I have felt levels of righteous rage and indignation that I didn’t think were possible. I have had to fight back despair, and overwhelming anxiety about the future, and grief so deep as I watched what was done to my precious wife, my children, and their spouses and children. The impact on them all has been incredibly painful and consequential. I fell to the floor more than once, crying out to God, “I can’t take this, I am destroyed, my heart is completely broken!”
Yet, here I am, several years later still clinging to God, doing what I did not think or feel could be done! God once again, miraculously bringing me through what I thought was unendurable!
Dear friends, I share all this to honestly, powerfully illustrate that I genuinely know and understand pain, sorrow, immeasurable grief, and anguish. I know what it is to feel hopeless. I know what it is to be financially broke, and feel the crushing weight of catastrophic circumstances. So when I share these things, you know I have lived through it.
God will somehow, someway, miraculously bring you through your great trials, tribulations, broken heart, and catastrophes. That is not some pithy, nice little Christian platitude, coming from a man who’s lived in an ivory tower. I have walked through extremely difficult, dark valleys, often for years. Many of these trials have certainly taken a toll, and we do indeed have our scars. The realities of some of these will be with us the rest of our lives. But God did bring us through them in miraculous ways.
I know the overwhelming feelings you may be wrestling through. I know it may seem and feel like everything is against you right now. So please know this: God will get you through this somehow and in some way. Don’t give up! Don’t throw in the towel and quit. Don’t lose your faith, even though it seems useless sometimes, or appears to make no difference. God has his eye on you. God knows your situation. God specializes in hopeless situations. God is tenderly collecting every tear from the eyes of your broken heart. God is writing and keeping track of every one of your sorrows, hurts, and heartaches. He will miraculously get you to the other side, though it seems impossible to even imagine right now. God will not betray your trust. Your faith and hope in Him are not in vain!
Please let me know any way I can be praying for you. Each of you matters to me.