My 164 days of incarceration in 4 American Prisons was one of the most shameful and simultaneously-fulfilling time of my stay in the United States of America; shameful because of the highest level of disappointment and disgrace I brought upon myself & my family and fulfilling because of the strategically-important people I met therein. My emotionally-styled writing mentor was met during my stay in prison: Donald Star. A modern day biblical Samarian whose been married 3 times without divorcing his last 2 wives, Donald literally kicked started my writing career after I read his 500+ words of personal reflection about his life.
However today’s gist is not about Seun Akisanmi’s ex-cocaine-addict prison friend. You’ll know more about him in my forthcoming book: From Prison to Photography. Today’s gist is about a man called Bob. A short, pot-bellied Caucasian in his mid-thirties, Bob’s short (no pun intended) temper got him 2 years in the walls of the prison for assaulting his neighbor. Interestingly, he was a pastor who apparently was well-acquainted with God’s voice. A few challenges in his life left him a little angry with God and the physical manifestations of his backsliding was his temper that eventually landed him in prison.
During one of our personal-reflection sessions, Bob eventually opened up about the climax of the challenge that seemingly led him to be angry with the one he called Yahweh. His 3 year-old daughter had been sick with what would seem like a minor ailment. After a few months of not responding to doctor’s treatment, his daughter died. Bob was angry. How could a God he claimed to serve with all his heart & soul allow his only daughter die. Couldn’t He have reached out and touched her with His healing hands. Could He not have spoken two words – “daughter arise” – and she would have gotten well. Could He not have…… Like the biblical Job, the questions seemed endless.
Unlike the lengthy response given to Job, God replied Bob with only one sentence after many weeks of asking WHY: NOW YOU KNOW HOW IT FELT WHEN MY ONLY BEGOTTEN SON DIED FOR MANKIND.
Bob was silent. Even as he shared the experience within those prison walls I could literally somehow understand the emotions God felt when His Son died along with the emotions Bob felt when his daughter died. The atmosphere in the prison was charged with what seemed to me like the presence of God repeating the very sentence that was spoken to Bob in his quest for answers: NOWYOUKNOW!
Many of us have gone through what seemed like a daughter-dying experience. Perhaps some might even be going through a similar heartbreaking saga. ISITPOSSIBLE that God allows us to pass through these valleys of the shadow of death so that we may share our unique experiences and testify of God’s goodness and mercies amidst all. ISITPOSSIBLE that He allows us to go through these seemingly-unbearable fiery trials so that we could be better witnesses to those going through the same. ISITremotelyPOSSIBLE that through all these challenges – most of which may have even been our own faults – all things will work together for our own good at the end as long as we remain in Him. ISITPOSSIBLE?
As I go through my Valley of, sorry, as you go through your dark valleys, please consider the possibility that God is saying through those experiences: NOWYOUKNOW what it feels like to be heartbroken. NOWYOUKNOW what it feels like to loose everything. NOWYOUKNOW what it feels like to be rich today and broke tomorrow. NOWYOUKNOW what it feels like for a faithful husband to cheat after 35 years of marriage. NOWYOUKNOW what it feels like to be in prison, to be falsely accused, to be betrayed… NOWYOUKNOW how to encourage someone who is going through the same trials you have gone through. NOWYOUKNOW not to judge anyone until you’ve walked 2 miles in their shoes. ISITPOSSIBLE?