When God Uses Hell

2017…a year I am not sorry to see go.

I haven’t written on here for a year and two months. And were I to tell you of what this past year and two months held, it could be summarized by what I once heard a pastor say, “God can use hell to bring Heaven to you.”

I’ve learned this year that life is too short to not be vulnerable, to not be real. It is in vulnerability that we find the courage to change and help others change. And it is in vulnerability that we find the courage to hope that despite our faults, failures, and flat out stupidity…we are still loveable.

The path that 2017 has led me on was quite the opposite of what I expected the path to be. I entered 2017 more full of hope than I’d been all the previous 27 years of my life combined. Seventeen in Scripture symbolizes victory, and by golly was I ready for some!

Slowly but surely however, life began to play cards I was not ready for. Things began to happen that were not in the stream of vision God had allowed me to see for 2017.  What was once steadfast and abounding hope soon became shaky and tormenting confusion. All I had once known was now in question. Relationships I’d counted on I began to push away. Beliefs that had been set suddenly were brought to trial. My freshly solidified identity began to dissolve and bend. Everything I’d once been founded on crumbled.

It took ten months on this path, for me to slowly and painfully recognize what was happening. I’d been trying so hard to make things work the way I had envisioned them at the beginning of the year, waiting too long when things should have stopped, striving without ceasing instead of praying. I took over God’s position, and I was going to do things for Him instead. I’d pushed God aside so that I could help in the plan I thought He’d had for me. But we all know…our helping God never helps anything. It only makes a mess of things. And so, it was in that tenth month that I finally saw the spiritual death I was heading straight towards.

My soul was utterly broken. My mind was confused. My emotions exhausted. My will apathetic. All identity was lost.

I had lost everyone I’d loved. Everything I’d stood for. I didn’t know who I was anymore, and I most certainly didn’t know who God was anymore.

Or so I’d thought. See, in the moment of breaking it is so easy to feel like truly the earth has been shattered. All we see is the wreckage, the devastation, the loss. And it is in those moments of breaking that the devil comes in swinging with every ounce of hatred within him. He doesn’t hold back. And in those moments of his utmost attack we can truly experience a hell. Where the weight of all that has been broken, lost, and experienced seem to almost suffocate the life out of you. The depths of your being groan with a pain you didn’t know existed within you. But it is through that hell that if we will just breathe… just breathe and look up, we’ll always see a light of hope.

The two weeks after God deeply broke me proved to be more time of breaking. A time where God truly wiped clean the foundations of all that had been built up in me. Everything built was completely gone, and realizing that is perhaps the most terrifying unstable feeling I’ve ever experienced in my life. As I stood there hopelessly looking at the metaphorical picture of my life, seeing nothing but grey slabs in front of me, I felt the Lord take my hand and say with the gentlest smile, “Sophia, this is grace. This is salvation.” And then, there on those grey slabs, He began to rebuild. Starting with the very basics, He began hammering…sawing… solidifying. Rebuilding my mind, my emotions, my will. To my surprise, He’d saved some pieces from what had been built in me before, pieces that were solid. Those pieces allowed for faster recovery in certain areas. Truths like God is good. God is sovereign. God is loving. God is kind. God is for us. For much of the year those truths had not been solid in my heart and mind. The days where I was faced with the terror of knowing nothing with surety were the two weeks of hell that He brought Heaven through.

As the reconstruction of my heart, mind, and soul have continued, He has pulled back the veil and revealed to me the deepest of roots that have set me up to believe lies that have dictated my life for so long. He has opened my eyes to see where and why I opened doors to the devil’s abuse. And in doing so, He has set me free. He has given me a taste of Heaven. A sweeter taste of hoping in Him and nothing else. When we are vulnerable, when the deepest parts of our heart are revealed…we are faced with the choice…will I change? Do I want change?

God never exposes us to hurt us. Only to heal us.

That brings me to the nearing end of 2017, a year that two months ago I would have sworn was going to be the end of me. But because He is faithful, because He is sovereign, and because He is the Author and Perfector of my faith and life….He has the final say. He is the one who fights my battles, and just when I thought the devil was going to give the death blow to me… Jesus Christ stepped in and said, “Not today satan…not ever.”

And so comes 2018. I’m not asking for anything this coming year. All I’m hoping is that I may crown the King of Kings and Lord of Lords with praises. And all He’s asking for me to do is breathe… To breathe Him in. To look up. To leave it all to Him. My hopes, my fears. My past, present, and future. To breathe. Because it’s all in his hands.

In the midst of the darkest moment of this year, I heard Him whisper to my heart, “You’re healing will come in praising.” And friends it has. And this now is how I fight my battles: laying my weapons aside, praising the One who is able to take all my sin, all my failures to obey, all my lack, all my fear and doubt, and somehow, someway turn it all into songs of utmost praise and joy. For when our eyes are fixed on Him with gratitude for His great grace and mercy, we’ll always be too busy to bother with a lying devil.

2018, may you be a year that proves more than ever why our sovereign Great God and King, Jesus Christ, is worthy of all our hope and trust.

Happy New Year friends, and don’t forget to…

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