Have you ever done something that everyone around you thought was crazy? Something where you know that God is directing you, but your family gives you that, “Oh, she’s gone off the deep end!” look? For me, that was moving from my beautiful, green Washington State, to the dry, brown desert of Las Vegas to help start a church. We call that “Jumping Off a Cliff”–that act of doing something scary because it is God who asks it of you.
I moved in December of 2013. It was difficult. It involved decisions I never thought I’d have to make and ended up with some grief involved, but I knew it was right. Once I moved, though, I was deliriously happy, and I thought that, while starting a church would be difficult, life in Las Vegas would be easy.
And then things started to change.
In late January, I got a call in the middle of the night. My step-dad was having a heart attack. A month later, I injured my knee and back, got bronchitis, my identity was stolen, my apartment was broken into, my dad had a heart attack, and my step-dad broke his kneecap.
It was too much. I began to crumble. Why would God call me to something and then let life get harder? If I’m supposed to be a pastor, a leader, called to ministry, why would such horrible things keep happening to me?
It’s a fair question. And I think our faith is made more real because we question. If something bad happens in my life, I have a desperate prayer for God to redeem the situation. To turn the bad into good. It doesn’t erase the bad things. It doesn’t erase the pain. My praying for God to redeem this situation didn’t heal my parents from the effects of their heart attacks. It didn’t immediately stop me from being afraid to be alone and quiet, especially in my apartment.
It did do something in me, though. When I was afraid of silence because in the silence I kept picturing coming home to my broken in door, or the voices of family, catching with tears stuck in their throats, God gently brought one message to light for me.
“We… glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame.” Romans 5:3-5a
Do you see that? No, God doesn’t cause the things that hurt us. Getting hurt is sometimes just a byproduct of being human. But look at what the byproducts of having the courage to allow God to redeem our situations are: Perseverance, Character, Hope. “And hope does not put us to shame.”
I know we’re all struggling with something. Some of us faced abuse or torment and are trying to move past it. Some of us are perfectionists and feel like nothing is ever good enough. Some of us feel hurt and angry because a load of bad stuff happened all at once and we don’t know how to get through it.
It’s OK. I know it feels alone. I felt alone when I had people telling me how courageous I was to move to Las Vegas, let alone to stay here after all of this happened. I felt alone because that wasn’t what was courageous to me. What was courageous was allowing God to work in the unknown. In the brokenness that I felt. To teach me how to be silent again, and how to understand what others experienced every day. To taste the shame that so many people around me feel in overwhelming amounts and to see around it to know that hope from God is the one thing that cannot put us to shame.
The courage in my life was to take that first step in suffering and point toward perseverance. Because if I walk toward perseverance long enough, it’s going to keep me on that road to hope. And to hope in Jesus? That’s courageous.
by Emily Hill
Emily fell in love with Jesus as an 18-year-old freshman in college. From the beginning, she has adored God’s Word and sharing about Him with others. She is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God and her passion is to share how our stories fit into God’s greater story, using humor, Scripture, and the tales of everyday life.
Emily currently resides in Las Vegas and is part of the pastoral team of a church startup in Downtown. She’s excited to have the opportunity to share Jesus and life with the people in southern Nevada. It’s a big change from her home in Washington State, but is an exciting journey watching God move!