God Isn’t Done With Your Story Yet

Growing up, I lived in great fear of my abusive father. I was neglected, beaten, and abused. His treatment convinced me that I was unwanted—a burden hardly worth being tolerated.

By age 15, this led me to become very embittered and depressed. I felt rejected, and covered up my incredible loneliness and pain with an angry protective mask.

Void of love and acceptance, I often questioned why I was alive, and whether my life even mattered. Somewhere deep inside, there was a part of me that longed to know that there was more to life than the hard, angry world that surrounded me.

As long as these questions about purpose remained unanswered, the emptiness I experienced persisted in a deep way. But when I found the answer to why I existed, there came a change so radical, things haven’t been the same since.


The dead, lonely end the world led me to 

As I grasped for purpose, my natural inclination was to turn towards what the world offered. So I sought my identity through sports and girls. I chased fulfillment through alcohol and drugs, and found temporary escape through music. I looked to bottles of vodka for peace, and another high from drugs to give me relief from my pain.

Of course, the relief never lasted long. I kept trying to convince myself that these worldly pursuits would help me, when in fact, they left me feeling more confused about my purpose in life—endlessly caught in a dangerous cycle of addiction that only left me empty.


At the end of myself, I finally looked to God

Through years of building up anger and bitterness against God and everyone, I had ignored the efforts of those who tried to share the Good News with me. But I eventually found myself desperate for something—anything—that could help me make sense of my life. And that desperation led me to reconsider the gospel I had distanced myself from. I had tried nearly everything else, and knew how deeply these things had failed to give me meaning. Perhaps it was time to give Christianity a chance.

From a point of despair, I was drawn to the rich promise Jesus makes, of a life of fulfillment and complete satisfaction in Him. I longed to experience that in my own life—to have a taste of the water that wells up to eternal life (John 4:12-14).

Finally, at age 16, I received Christ into my life and began a life-long process of learning how Jesus is the source of life and the answer to my quest for purpose.


A new creation in the same circumstances

However, once I accepted Jesus, my circumstances remained the same. Drugs and alcohol still beckoned me. My father was still abusive, and offered nothing resembling love or acceptance. Yet, while my circumstances remained unchanged, things couldn’t have been more different on the inside.

The difference lay in the reality that I no longer felt imprisoned by the situation I was in. Since Jesus had saved me from the confines of sin, He welcomed me as an adopted child, offering the unconditional love and acceptance that I had been so desperate for (1 John 3:1). Through redemption, He gave me hope for a life outside the traps of fear and cycles of addiction.

Though accepting Christ wasn’t a quick fix for all of my problems, it cut to the core of many of the deep struggles I had about identity and purpose. God taught me how to overcome the lures of the things of the world, and instead, to look to His Word to understand that I was made for Him (Colossians 1:16), and His purposes!

How God is still helping me understand my purpose

As I continue my journey as a Christian, God is constantly exposing ways that I rely on things apart from Him to understand my place in this world. Recently, I’ve had to work through the temptation to look to the applause of men for affirmation of the work I do in church. Instead of looking to others, I remind myself that in trying to make sense of who I am, or what I do, I must look to Christ. Because Christ is the reason I am. He is the one who sacrificed His own life—to offer us a way to come back into relationship with the very One who created us.

When we get caught up in the busyness of life, there are a thousand ways to lose sight of this. In order to carefully re-center my thoughts when I find myself straying, I’ve started a practice of pausing and praying. I ask God to silence the loud noise of my surroundings, which only offers loud, false hope. I ask Him to help me listen to His still, small voice that calls me to Him. In these moments, I’m reminded that God is all I have ever needed or longed for. Even if briefly, I can be still and rest in knowing that He is God (Psalm 16:10).

And this helps me remember one of the freedoms we have in Christ—freedom from the pursuit of seeking satisfaction from the things of this earth, from being failed by jobs and relationships, or whatever else we are tempted to define ourselves by. I have found peace in knowing that true eternal satisfaction is found in praising and worshiping God.

It’s my hope that I can encourage others to find hope in the freedom Christ offers—freedom which allows us to turn from self-indulgent pursuits, and to worship God freely with grateful hearts and satisfied souls.

A Letter to the Friend Who Feels Like Giving Up on God

Dear friend,

I was devastated when you told me that you’ve decided to “give up” on God.

But in some ways, your decision didn’t come as a complete surprise to me.

For a long time, you’ve been struggling with deep hurts, unresolved conflicts, and emotional baggage. You took your pains to be signs that God had abandoned you and left you alone in the wilderness.

I know it doesn’t feel this way right now, but I want you to know that nothing could be further from the truth.

Sometimes it can be difficult to see past what we’re going through, especially when the end seems to be nowhere in sight. And I know how hard you’ve tried to seek after God through the different trials you’ve faced over the past few years. I know how tightly you held on to Him even when you went through situations that you couldn’t understand. I know how desperately you tried to look for answers.

You sacrificed a huge part of your youth to serve Him. You traded lucrative job offers for the mission field—giving up material comforts, financial security, and even family relationships—to live among the poor and build His kingdom there. You were crushed when things didn’t quite go as you had hoped, and you were asked to leave after many heated disagreements with your co-workers. You came home broken, jaded, and disillusioned.

But still you did not let it deter you from continuing to live your life for Him. You wanted your life to count for Him, so you threw yourself into more ministry opportunities, signed up for theological studies, and spent more time with Him.

I remember the long conversations we had as we tried to process what you had been through—Why did God allow them to happen? Why didn’t He give you a way out? Why doesn’t He make it easier for us to see what He is doing behind the scenes?—and I wish I was able to help you find better answers, greater comfort, and more peace.

I still don’t have answers for you now.

But here’s what I’ve known to be true: Even at the lowest moments of my life, God has never abandoned me.

Do you remember the time when I felt like I was on the top of the world—I was in what I thought was my dream job then—and then everything came crashing down in a single day? That day, I didn’t just lose my job. I also lost my vision and zest for life, and all my well-laid plans crumbled into dust.

It took me a long time to recover from it, and to begin to believe again that God knew what He was doing with my life. But you were there with me when I decided to take a timeout and go into missions in India for six months, hoping that I’d have a clearer vision of what I should do next with my life at the end of it.

Do you remember those nine months I struggled to find a job right after I came back from India? As if it wasn’t exhausting enough to apply for job after job and hear nothing back, I was confronted with so many questions about why I was still unemployed (with the underlying suggestion that I wasn’t trying hard enough). You knew how difficult it was to push myself out of the house to meet more questions I couldn’t answer. And you celebrated with me when an offer finally fell into place.

You were there to listen to me when I was trapped in a toxic and suffocating work environment, questioning whether I had even heard God right in taking on that job. It was a huge struggle to get out of bed each day, and I’d reach home every night drained and depressed, wondering how I’d be able to summon enough energy to get to work the next day.

You saw me grow in despair as I watched the only friends I had at work moving on to other things. I envied how easily God gave them a way out—while I was still stuck there, left to fend for myself. I was bitter and angry with God, I couldn’t understand how it could possibly be good for me to stay in that place.

It would be more than a year before I finally found a way out myself.

Now, the different threads of pain and confusion from those past years are finally coming together. And I’m beginning to see the picture that God intended to weave all this while.

I don’t know if I can ever say that the pain of what I went through was worth it, but I know that it gave me a little taste of what it’s like to share in the fellowship of Jesus’s sufferings (Philippians 3:10)—and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.

I’m sharing my story with you not to belittle or trivialize what you’re going through, or even to add salt to your wounds. I’m writing this simply to remind you of how much I valued those times when you sat with me in silence, mourned with me in my struggles, and rejoiced with me in my breakthroughs. And I want you to know that I’m here to do the same for you.

For many years, I’ve held Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 close to my heart, and I rejoice in the opportunity to walk with you, and comfort you with the comfort that I myself have received from God (v 4).

Today, one of your favorite songs snuck into my Spotify playlist, and it reminded me of the fire that you once had, your determination to see the goodness of God in your life and the lives of those around you (Psalm 27:13). Perhaps these words feel meaningless to you right now.

But just as your friendship and prayers helped me fix my eyes on God when I was tempted to falter, I am determined to keep praying and believing with you that we will see the Lord’s goodness together. That one day, everything will make sense. And none of what you have been through would be wasted.

And the next time you sing the refrain “You are good” again, it will be with a different kind of fire. It will be with the hard-won confidence of the psalmist, who can now say, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1). It will be with the purity of one who has gone through God’s refining fire, and emerged as pure as gold (Job 23:10). It will be with the tenderness of one who has tasted and seen the goodness of a God who pursues us relentlessly, even when we’ve decided to let go of His hand.

Until then, I will keep praying with you, walking with you, waiting with you.



Your friend

Your Future Is Not Determined By Your Circumstances

Written By Timothy Lee, Taiwan, originally in Simplified Chinese

Many people believe that in order to achieve success, one needs a head start in life–you need to be ahead right at the starting line. What this means is that your chance of “success” is determined by your family background. If you come from a privileged background, you have a higher chance of success in life.

I come from a complicated family background. My father was a third-generation gangster, and my mother was a drug addict. My parents brought me into the world while they were still very young and soon after I was born, they gave me up for adoption.

My mother’s use of drugs throughout her pregnancy caused me to suffer many health problems since birth, including an inflamed kidney when I was just one year old. Because of that, I spent a lot of time in the hospital.

At this point, you would probably be thinking that this child was fated to a life of tragedy, but by God’s grace, a miracle happened to me. A Christian family who learned of my situation decided to adopt me, giving this weak and sick child from a complex background a chance to enjoy a normal childhood.


Starting At a Disadvantage

And so, I began my race in this life. But I quickly realized that the “starting line” was not at the point of my birth, but when I was still in my mother’s womb. While the new environment helped in terms of my personal growth, it couldn’t alleviate my health problems. From a young age, I needed to rely on the regular use of steroids to manage my recurrent kidney illness.

Furthermore, I was a hyper-active child, often running around and getting into trouble. Even though my family spent a lot of time and money to help me, I could never sit still nor did I enjoy studying. This frustrated the adults in my family. No one had high hopes for my future.


The Turning Point

When I was 13, I suffered another bout of problems with my kidney, and this time I was in the worst condition I had ever been in. My belly was swollen, and I was unable to pass urine. On top of that, my body was continually losing protein. Even after a month into my stint in the hospital, doctors were still unable to find a cure and could only manage my illness by increasing the dosage of my steroid intake. And because of my severe loss of protein, I needed to undergo IV treatment to maintain the level of protein within my body.

Just when it seemed that my situation was utterly hopeless, my family brought the pastor of our church to pray for me. The next day, I began to recover miraculously. I was able to pass urine naturally, and within a week, I was able to leave the hospital.

During a follow-up appointment two years later, I was informed by the doctor that I no longer needed to take steroids, and that the risk of relapse was very low. The doctors never found the reason for my sudden and speedy recovery, but I do remember a nurse saying to me at the time, “Your God has saved you!”

God’s plan is different for everyone; not everyone will go through such dramatic experiences. But this experience became a turning point in my life. From that day on, I was transformed. I started to devote myself to prayer, studying the Bible, and attending church. I also tried to work on my character, leaving behind the rashness of my earlier days. Not long afterwards, I was baptized as a Christian, and started serving in church. God said to me that my life is His, and since He has redeemed me, I should be serving Him.

When I was 19, I was admitted into a good university in Hong Kong, and even served as chair of the student council. Though as a child I had been looked down upon, now I was seen as a good student and role model. This transformation was completely God’s work.

Even though these achievements have given me a better standing in the eyes of the world, to me, the most important measure of success is not in gaining admiration from men, but in belonging to God’s kingdom—being affirmed by God as His child and being sustained by His unfailing love.


Finishing the Race Well

I was someone with no hope for the future, simply surviving by virtue of the strong medication I’d been taking. And yet, God not only gave me a family who was willing to take care of me, healed me both physically and spiritually, but He also gave me wisdom and favor in the eyes of men. The changes in my life testify to the goodness of the God we read about in the Bible.

Friends, perhaps you are currently weighed down by your circumstances: Why am I worse off than others in so many aspects? Why was I not born with a silver spoon in my mouth? How can I be anything in life, having started with a disadvantage?

As I was growing up, these were complaints that I often had. And yet, there is a passage in the Bible that still moves me and reminds me not to complain about my circumstances:

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)

Every time I read this verse, my heart is filled with gratitude—I was once considered “lowly” by the world’s standards, but God has redeemed my life by His grace. Even from my mother’s womb, God preserved my life, and has a plan and purpose for me.

So, when we rely on God, even though we may start at a disadvantage, we can still finish the race well. It doesn’t mean that we won’t have struggles throughout our lives. But if your life, like mine, was filled with brokenness from the start and you do not wish to fall into a whirlpool of tragedy, I have great news for you—God can redeem your life and fill it with His hope.

If this is your heart’s desire, I invite you to pray this prayer:

Dear God,

I confess that I cannot completely control my life. I am unable to change things like my family background. But I know that You are the God who is able to redeem all things.

Therefore, I willingly accept you as the Lord of my life! Allow me to experience the change that comes from believing and trusting in You. I believe that You can lead me on a different path, because you are the Creator God who truly gives meaning to my life.

Please help me, so that I do not lose myself in the world’s definition of success and the hope of approval from others. Let my life be immeasurably valuable and meaningful because of my fellowship with You. Amen!

God Uses Our Brokenness For His Glory

Written by Deborah Fox, Australia

I was rummaging through a collection of papers and knick-knacks on my bedside dresser when I noticed a card from my sister. She had given it to me several months ago to encourage me to keep trusting in God throughout a difficult period in my life. These words stuck out to me in particular: “God uses everything in our lives for His glory. None of your trials are ever wasted.”

Over the years, I have suffered from anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Since I was a teenager, I had been taking antidepressants to help me cope with unwanted thoughts and resist the overwhelming compulsion to clean. The medication I was on helped me remain calm and optimistic.

But last year, my immune system was weakened during some health struggles and showed no signs of improving. My haematologist (blood doctor) suspected that my antidepressants were suppressing my already depleted platelet levels and suggested I slowly wean myself off them.

Talk about a shock to the system. I realized I had been basically numb to the pain for most of my adult life. Now, it seemed that all my feelings were magnified a thousand times over.

I thought I was managing alright. It was difficult in the beginning but I was getting through each day without my thoughts getting in the way of my daily routine too much. Then I was faced with the sudden deaths of two friends within the space of just a few months.

The shock and grief sparked a massive peak in my anxiety levels. My OCD also became much worse. My lengthier shower routines meant often being late for work, missing meetings, having to cancel plans with friends and ultimately feeling like I was letting people down all the time. I found it difficult to cope without any medication to help block out the intrusive thoughts. Panic attacks were more commonplace. While my friends and family seemed to have it all together, I wondered whether I would ever make it out the front door, let alone be used by God.


God Chooses the Imperfect

Those concerns have lessened over time but it’s been a tough journey. My battles are ongoing, but my sister’s words still ring true—God uses our brokenness for His glory. We often think about the things we need to fix in order to be used by Him. But He uses the meek, the mild, the weak, the young, the broken, the shamed and the hurting. He chooses to use what the world deems as inferior for His superior purposes.

Consider the type of people called by God in the Bible. Moses had a terrible stutter, yet he was used by God to approach the mighty Pharaoh and free the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. Rahab was a prostitute, yet she was used to save God’s people and was even recognized in the lineage of Jesus. King David was chosen as the one who would rule Israel even though he was the youngest among a poor sheep herding family.

I used to feel ashamed of my weaknesses. I thought my anxiety and OCD were things Christians shouldn’t experience, so therefore I should never speak of them. We’re often taught that we need to surrender every anxious thought to God—so why was it so hard for me?

My anxious thoughts have prevented me from speaking on a number of occasions. They have also stopped me from putting my hand up to be a mentor to young girls because I thought I wasn’t a good enough example for them to follow. There have been overseas mission trips I’ve desperately wanted to attend but have had to decline, knowing how bad my mental health would be in unhygienic situations.

I thought that I was somehow unworthy of serving God because I wasn’t the “perfect Christian”, one who never doubted, never worried, never messed up. But the reality is that none of us are perfect. The Church is made up of fallible human beings. We need to resist the urge to present ourselves as perfect to the outside world, because it’s a false representation of who we are.


God Shines Through The Cracks of Our Lives

We are in the process of being made whole, but we are still a long way from perfect. Jesus says, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). We need to show other broken people that freedom and acceptance can be found in the One who made them and loves them just as they are. We don’t need to have it all together. We just need to place our trust in the One who does. I can try my best but I will still fall. But even in my moments of weakness, I know God is still with me. He is there to wipe away my tears and give me strength.

I was recently able to share my testimony with a friend, which included my struggles with mental illness. I didn’t share the sanitized version of “my life was a mess. . . then I heard the gospel. . . now my life is perfect.” Instead, I shared that I still battle my demons, but that God is able to give me peace amid trials and hope when I feel hopeless. This helped her to open up about the recent difficulties she had been facing.

For some reason my friend had always thought that Christians were perfect people and that she would never be “good enough” for God. However, God used my struggles to show her that none of us are perfect, but we have a perfect God who loves us anyway. I was able to share the gospel with her and it opened up opportunities I never thought possible.

God doesn’t use me despite my weaknesses, He uses me through them. I was able to share the gospel with my friend because of my struggles. My weaknesses have also helped me gain a greater empathy for others who are suffering. My illness has enabled me to depend on God more than ever before. Just as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

We all have our own unique struggles. But God can turn the ugliness of our pain and weakness into the beauty of His victory. A Japanese friend once shared with me the art of “Kintsugi.” This is when gold is used to repair breaks in earthenware. The breaks are appreciated as part of the history of the object, rather than thought of as something to hide or disguise. And through the repairs, a common piece of pottery becomes an exquisite piece of art. How much more can God repair and shine through the cracks in our lives!

What battles are you facing? God can turn them around for His glory. He is sovereign and He is able to bring change in any situation. Praise God that He can create gold from our brokenness!