The theory of evolution claims only the strong shall survive.  Maybe so, but don’t we all love a good underdog story?  Here is mine.

2019 was riddled with obstacles.  It was as if I was being tested around every bend.  Up’s and down’s become part of my journey; and roadblocks did not even surprise me anymore.  However many challenges I faced it was as if they were predestined and designed to cultivate my character.

Over the 365 days of the year 2019, I found myself going toe-to-toe in the ring against my greatest contender; Fear.  Some days leaving with a busted lip or swollen eye.

Through it all my faith remained steady.  I was spending many mornings in prayer, worshipping and adoring my Abba.  Many hours of intimate talks and conversations lead to countless revelations.  Our relationship felt effortless.

But waking up to the first day of 2020 and the evidence of our near-death accident parked in my driveway.  I was upset.  To add insult to injury, my husband realized his driver’s license expired a month before the accident and did not realize.  According to all the searches the internet provided, it stated that insurance companies do not have to pay out any claims when the driver of the vehicle was not legally licensed.  The fear of not being able to have our SUV repaired circled my head.  How much would the damage add up to and would we be forced to pay for the repairs ourselves?

The next punch would come in the form of relationships.  The challenges of the previous year, the stress of the business and the piling bills started to tip the scales and cause more friction between my husband and I.  We were both on edge.  The smallest spark caused fireworks and fighting became the norm.  I tried to make sense of it all, but felt so overwhelmed that before I could really seek out the answer I would be confronted by yet another low blow.

Last year the house we had been living in for the past four years were being listed.  We had first option to buy, but after deciding to sell the business, no bank would touch us.  The time limit on our offer to purchase quickly ran out, but somehow we were still trusting God for a breakthrough.  This year however reality came knocking when another buyer put in an offer and signed to become the new owners of our dream home.  A dream home that were now being filled with arguments.  Looming over my head were the thoughts of moving.  I spent hours searching for rental properties on line, only to be discouraged time after time.

As the stress increased, the tension in my marriage escalated.  Soon I was no longer looking for a family home, but a two bed apartment for only the girls and I.  I could not stand the constant fighting and I felt my girls were suffering.  Besides the atmosphere felt so toxic that I thought I was doing them a favour.

Trying to bob and weave the constant punches, the one upside were the selling of the business.  This would guarantee a pay cheque at the end of the sale.  Selling the business and getting out of my lease agreement would be a huge relief.  A right hook left me reeling when the sale of the business came to a sudden halt.  I still had a glimmer of hope that the sale would eventually be successful, but Time was dragging its feet.

My life played out blow-by-blow and just when I thought I was about to finish the round, I received a punch below the belt.  It presented itself in the form of a betrayal that hit a little too close to home. 

Throughout this process I slowly withdrew from my normal social circles, but when this happened it sent my world spinning and I felt more alone than ever before.

The continual fighting at home and unease in every other part of my life left me feeling hopeless.

Trust me when I say, when hopelessness becomes a tenant in your soul, depression is the first one to move in to the neighbourhood.

Now blow after blow came, with no breaks in between.  It didn’t take long before depression felt like gravity around my neck, trying to pull me down.  Staring into the abyss of sheer defeat, my despair still tugging at me, it all felt like an impossible task and ‘giving up’ my only option.

Funny how through this all, I had the sense that God was still in my corner.  Maybe He was binding up my wounds between each round.  Through this all there was very little time for studying my bible, very few prayers left my busted lips and no time was given to worship. 

My once, high, slowly became a mudslide down a fast moving slope.  The only conversation I would have with God would be my constant “whys?”  Nothing made much sense and it seems as if all the odds were stacked against me. 

I felt guilty for neglecting the one thing I always held dear.  Not pushing past my human feelings and boldly approaching the throne of God.  I felt like I failed.  I thought my belief was much stronger… my faith had more substance.  It made me feel humiliated towards God… maybe that’s how Peter felt after his denial not long after his very public announcement  to never leave Jesus’ side.

It was then that I heard God say… “You know there’s a difference between failing and being defeated.” “You didn’t fail Me, you were simple defeated.”

Looking up the words… to fail means to quit and being unsuccessful, while defeat means being beaten in battle.

God’s word affirmed that defeat is not failure.  I stayed the course.  I fought with all my might, but sometimes you will receive a sucker punch which will knock you out cold.  And that’s ok.

Psalm 144:1-2 reads, Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.  He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues people under me.

So if God is the one who trains us for war and for battle, I can only guess that this was also part of His greater plan.  What’s comforting to know is that He remains my fortress, my stronghold and deliverer; my shield in who I can take shelter.  And this is where I think I will remain until I am fit for battle again.

Niki Hodgson

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