The Pain Turns to Joy

This week has been one of the craziest, most insane, emotional, intense, and ridiculously weird weeks of my life. 

Last weekend, I had the awesome privilege of going to work with my friend Sydney’s church at their Discipleship Now weekend (D-now).  It was incredible to see young people that were excited about Jesus, and not just in an emotional, church camp kind of way, but in a way that said “We want to know more about God because He loves us and He deserves it, no matter what it costs us.”

We were able to teach them about holiness, being set apart, persecution, suffering, and talk to them like they were brothers/sisters, and not as little children.  I love that.

Sunday night: One of the hardest, most difficult nights of my life.  Lately I’ve been having some issues that I don’t even feel like discussing on here, simply because I don’t know how.  It’s one of those things you’ll just have to trust me when I say it’s bad.  I can say that it involved a high level of anxiety and some serious mental stress.  I was literally screaming at God, “Where are you?” I had no idea what was going on until I heard this voice resonate in my heart:

“I’m here.  I’m right here.  And I’m not going anywhere. You are mine.”

I heard that over and over and over and over.  I keep replaying that in my head over and over and over and over, to give me peace.

Monday came and I was depressed about what had happened, as I tried to explain what had happened over the past few months in the aftermath of a stormy and restless night of sleep.

Monday around 2:45, I’m sitting in my campus minister’s office.  He comes in and tells me he just got off the phone with a guy from IMB and tells me that they’ll be contacting me this week.  I was getting ready to go shoot video for a story, and with this nugget of knowledge in my head, turned my phone to “ON” just in case they called.

Literally, five minutes later, I get a phone call from IMB.  We talk through a few things, and at the end of the conversation I hear this, the most joyous news I’ve heard in a while:

“This is what I’m going to do, Neal.  I’m gonna go on and approve you your application to serve in the Philippines this summer.”

Approved.  Approved, approved, approved.  I will be going to the Philippines this summer to go share the love of Christ with the Filipino people.

In the midst of the storm, God is good.  So good.  I can’t understand it, and honestly, don’t know if I really want to.  I like just resting and trusting in that my God can handle all things, and He does.

Yesterday comes, and I woke up, still in shock and in this surreal state of knowing where I was going this summer.  I made mistakes, however, as I quickly reminded myself that I was still human and if this was going to work, I had to lay down everything to God and let Him be in control.

Today, I have the relief of saying that, as of 9 pm, almost on the dot, my first ever broadcast, TV-like story, is completed.  It might suck, and I sure as heck am not sharing it on here, but it’s done, and it looks halfway decent.  May God get the glory.

So, what do I take from all this?  Outside of the fact that my emotions have literally changed every day this week like a middle school girl “in love?”  I realize that God is the God of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I have found, perhaps more than anything this week, how good it is to just have God there.  I found myself telling God “I don’t need answers, I don’t want them, I don’t want to know any theological truths right now…I just want you here beside me.”  And that was more than enough for me.  God’s Word and Holy Spirit comforted me in my greatest time of need.  And then He gave me joy as He showed me what He was doing.  And He continues to provide grace for this sinner that wants to humbly follow Christ.  God knows what He’s doing.

And I’m so glad to be a part of that.  May you be filled with the knowledge of His will.  May we continue to trust in what God is doing, even when we can’t see it.  May God continue to use all of us for His glory, and His glory alone.  May we treasure Christ above all else.

As always, should you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to comment on this post or email me at

God bless,

Neal E

P.S.  I know I haven’t continued the “Jesus Died” series lately.  This semester carries many more weekend obligations than originally anticipated, so I will continue that series when possible, maybe this weekend, depending on other things.  It is my goal to see each of my readers grow in their love, knowledge, and walk with the Lord by God’s grace through my writings, and I pray that this continues to happen.


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