It was a night just like any other. I was a sophomore in high school, sitting in my room, listening to music while doing some homework, but I didn’t know my life was about to be turned upside down. My mom came into my room and asked me to turn off my music, and immediately I could tell something was wrong because she looked like she had been crying. She sat down on my bed and delivered some terrible news: My friend had committed suicide.
I was completely lost. In the weeks and months that followed, I found myself unable to process what had happened and refused to heal, so I closed myself off from everyone around me, including God. After already having lost two friends in middle school to freak accidents, I couldn’t understand why God would take someone from me again. Why did this keep happening to me?
I spent the next few years pretending to live a Christian life. I acted like nothing had faltered in me spiritually, but I never prayed, never touched my Bible, and lied about going to church on Sundays. I wanted nothing to do with the God that had hurt me so much.
When the time came for me to go to college, I slowly started picking up the pieces of my spiritual life that had been shattered a few years before. As a freshman in college, I made it into the Concert Choir. A couple days in, a boy in my choir messaged me on Facebook introducing himself and saying that he had a feeling I was a Christian and was wondering if I was looking for a church. I remember crying when I read his message because it was as if God was speaking through him, reaching out for me to come back to him. I gladly accepted and started to attend church again.
It took me a while to get accustomed to church again, but I felt like I finally had a purpose. I started to feel whole. I was finally starting to grow in my relationship with Christ, pursuing him despite the trials I had been through.
Then, later in college, my life turned upside down again. My best friend’s father passed away unexpectedly. I have known this friend since kindergarten, so her father was a second father to me. I was shaken by this loss.
Why would God allow this to happen after I finally found my way back to him? I was angry, confused, and lost, once again.
Then, after floundering for quite some time, one day I came across 1 Peter 1:6-7:
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
These verses resonated in my soul and set a fire to my faith. I realized that I was so consumed by the anger and resentment I had toward God for the death of my loved ones that I didn’t give myself a chance to celebrate their lives and thank God for blessing my life with their presence.
Through these trials, I walked away from God time and time again with the intent of never coming back. What I didn’t realize was that he was always there waiting for me to pursue him.
There were years where I despised God and didn’t understand why a God who was supposed to love me would bring me so much pain and grief. But, I know now that I would not be who I am today without God putting me through these trials. God was testing the genuineness of my faith, and through many ups and downs, I found my faith again.
There are times in life when God can seem like the enemy, whether you feel that he is distant, or he has taken someone or something from you. We need to remind ourselves that our God is for us, through the good and the bad. He is always there, even when we can’t see him. All we have to do is seek Him out.
Emily McCaleb is one of our summer interns. She is a senior at Winona State University seeking a degree in Advertising. Emily is the youngest of three and hopes to find a job in corporate advertising or a non-profit organization after she graduates.