As of this writing, I am at the tail end of the worst ten years of my life. Before my troubles began I had a beautiful wife, a healthy family, a nice home, a great job in Chicago – I was at my pinnacle. It seemed nothing could possibly go wrong. My mother used to say that everything I touched turned to gold. But it was all about to come to a screeching halt.

Since 2005, I’ve had to file bankruptcy, lost a boat in the process, lost a home to foreclosure, sent my oldest daughter to rehab for heroin use, lost a job of 12 years, my mother passed away on my 51st birthday, I’ve lost 3 friends to various afflictions, suffered 3 years of unemployment, and I have been diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia, sleep apnea, familial tremors, and right-sided parkinsonism. Any one of these events would be enough to send someone over the edge. During all this time I suffered from anxiety and depression and began to lose my faith. I began to think that I had done something to God for Him to allow all of this to happen. But of course this was not the case. God was there through it all. I just became distant and bitter and shut myself off from God and those whom I loved.

Thank God my wife was there through it all. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without her by my side. It’s important to have a support group when you’re going through tough times. You can find support through your spouse, family or friends. One of my brothers in Christ, Steven Davis, has also been very supportive and encourages me to get out, be productive, and remained focused on God’s work. When you’re being challenged by difficult circumstances, it’s so easy (at least it was for me) to shut everyone out and try to be strong on your own. You get trapped in your own vortex and it becomes increasingly difficult to climb out of the hole.

So what do you do? How do you find the strength to face each day when your life is spiraling out of control all around you? I found the answer to be simple, yet not so simple to achieve. The answer is to keep looking up. And yes, this is easier said than done.

Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

I have to be honest. I wasn’t exactly thinking that when my mother passed away on my birthday. I was devastated. I was sad. I was angry. But I was alive. And still fully functional and had so many gifts to share with others. That’s the key. It’s okay to be discouraged by uncontrollable events in your life. But be encouraged by what you have. Your breath. Your family. Your friends. People are the ones who matter. And God loves us when we believe in Him. He loves us when we’re sick. He loves us when we’re healthy. He loves us when we’re dying. He loves us when our lives are out of control. He’s there for us when we need Him. And no, things don’t always work out the way we want, but when God’s in control, they work out the way He wants. He knows the big picture. He’s putting together all of the puzzle pieces in our lives and His timing is perfect. This is what it means to have faith. To put our trust in the Creator and realize that His plan is much bigger than our own. It’s letting go. It’s surrendering our lives to our Creator and knowing that He has our best interest at heart.