'I Had Been Plunged Into the Pit of Hell'

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If you've ever gone through a horrific trial that left you feeling this way, here's some hope.
If you've ever gone through a horrific trial that left you feeling this way, here's some hope. (iStockPhoto)

"Do you know what you need to do?" he interrupted.

"What?"

"You need to get up, take that pamphlet, throw it away, and go back to church next Sunday."

I was a bit stunned by Travis's response, but I complied.

We went back to church the following Sunday and every Sunday after that, each time fully expecting the God-thing to be a fluke. How could a God so grand and so holy take notice of mere man? I thought. But time and again, Jesus faithfully showed Himself.

It wasn't just in church, either. Strange things began to happen all the time, things I couldn't explain. One night, Ella—who was three at the time—called me into her room after I had put her to bed. She said, "Mommy, you know that Jesus loves you, right?" Tears stung my eyes as I stood in her doorway, startled by her comment. We didn't talk about Jesus at home. She knew very little about God herself, yet here she was, a little three-year-old, giving a message from God to her mommy.

Another time, Avery—who was one—began crying inconsolably after bedtime, which was not like her at all. By eleven o'clock, after spending hours trying to calm her down, I felt exhausted and defeated. Nothing I did worked. So as a last resort, I threw my hands up and said a prayer, fully convinced it wouldn't work. I didn't think God could really hear me and, even if He could, I certainly didn't think He'd pay much attention to my little problems. But I stood over my little girl and prayed anyway. I asked Jesus to calm her heart and give her peace so she could go to sleep. And that moment—and I mean that very moment— she fell asleep while I stood looking at her in amazement. Tears ran down my cheeks. You are real, I thought. You do hear me.

There are so many stories like these. It seemed God showed up daily. And I was given the proof I needed.

It was true; I couldn't save myself. So I was given grace. And as my eyes were opened, I began to see clearly for the first time. I began to see God's love. His mercy. His grace. His forgiveness. Yet I was still fighting. All along the way, I fought as I tried to apply reason to faith. But in the end, Jesus won—as He always does. He rocked my analytical world, tore down my every argument, turned my life upside down—or perhaps right side up—and gave me life.

The moment we surrender ourselves to Jesus, we're made new. We're made alive in Christ, and this is precisely how I felt. I felt free for the first time as I began to be healed of the anxiety and depression that had held me captive for months. The joy and peace I so desperately sought finally took residence in my heart. And the void that I had been unknowingly trying to fill with worldly things—accomplishments and accolades that ultimately led me down the dark alley of my soul—was filled with the light and love of Christ.

I had been made new.

In 2010, Laurie Coombs was called to forgive the man who murdered her father. What happened as a result of that journey is chronicled in her book, Letters from My Father's Murderer (Kregel, 2015). She blogs at LaurieCoombs.org and is a regular writer for iBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com. Coombs and her husband, Travis, make their home in Nevada along with their two daughters and are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia.

Coombs can also be found on Facebook (lauriecoombs), Twitter (lauriecoombs) and Pinterest (laurieacoombs).

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