Last night, Marissa and I shared our life-dreams with each other. We like to do this every once in a while so we can see how we've grown throughout the year and what we desire next.
This year has been a struggle for both of us. We've battled mental illness and heartbreak far greater than in years past.
I shared with Marissa that besides the year I lost my dad, 2020 has been the most difficult year for me to maintain hope in God. There have been many times when I've wanted to walk away from the Church altogether and start over. I battled passive thoughts of suicide, ministry burnout, depression, and loneliness.
I was trapped in a valley of discouragement without an end in sight. And then, right at my breaking point, God broke through. I told Marissa that I am forever grateful for the valley I was in these past 7 months because it prepared me for the next mountain God has in store for me.
At the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. - Jonah 2:6
Pain prepares us for purpose. Without purpose, pain cannot exist (see romans 8:28).
A doctor does not cut into the body of a human during surgery without the purpose of healing them and making them stronger than before. In the same way, God does not waste our pain and suffering in the valley—He uses our pain for healing, teaching, growing, maturing, strengthening, fine-tuning, and preparing us for the mountain ahead.
My prayer for you is this: Stay strong in the valley and never turn back. There is joy that comes when you are able to look down at the conquered valley and ahead towards the next mountain.
At the beginning of the year, God told me this was a no turning back year.
I'm not planning on it.