God's Grace 8 Stories Up
(By: Robin Eastman)
Maybe you are wondering if God cares about the pain you are in. Maybe you’re wondering if there even is a God. I encourage you to read my story. I was at a place in my life where God seemed to be a billion miles removed from my suffering. Then something happened, and I have to tell about it.
I was raised by an atheist mother, who seemed to be mad at the world. She didn’t trust anyone much other than herself, and these were the values that were passed down to me as a “guide” for living.
Her negative attitude made my life a living hell, once my father was completely out of the picture, because then there was no one to keep her anger at bay. She blamed God for many of the unfortunate things that happened to her, and she would also say very unkind things about Him, like, “He ain’t never did a d***d thaang for me!”
On the other hand, there was my beautiful, godly grandmother Hazel who loved the Lord with all her heart, and she was always praising Him. There has never been a time that I can recall not seeing her read her Bible every day, or see her toting it to church every Sunday. All Hazel listened to was gospel music, and truths from the Bible preached on the radio. I can remember hearing 'Open Our Eyes' playing every evening, and I also never heard her say any unkind word about anyone. She would always simply say, “People go through trials and tribulations … we all have our cross to bear.”
My mother also blamed by grandmother for many of the things that went wrong in her presence, and with such an anger. I just never understood. She never allowed my grandma to take me to church either, nor was I ever allowed to go alone. I’d sneak away anyhow, trying to see the Holy Ghost move in people, because I had heard so much about Him.
Over time, my curiosity continued to grow, and although I feared my mother’s wrath, I still wanted to know God.
When the abuse began, both mentally and physically, I was only seven years old. My mother also stopped spending quality time with me. On her days off from work, she would just go somewhere for the entire weekend, leaving me alone.
Once my parents separated, we moved into The Cabrini Green Projects in Chicago, Illinois. This was in the late 1960’s, and moving there was a turning point in my life, because one day, I met Jesus.
I was just sitting on a bench in front of my building when I saw what I thought to be some pretty brave white people. As I watched them enter the walkway of the Chicago Avenue entrance, I recall thinking, Are these people crazy?! White people never came into the Cabrini Green Projects because some Chicago Police officers were ambushed there just before we moved in, and ever since, it had been considered a war zone.
The four of them, two men and two ladies, just walked up and asked me if I knew Jesus. I told them, “No, but my grandmother does!”
Then one of them asked me, “Do you know that Jesus died for you?” And I remember thinking: Wow! He did?! When?! Why?!
Up to this moment I had been experiencing chronic beatings, torture of different sorts, starvation, and isolationism (stuck in closed closets) by someone who was supposed to protect me, not harm me. And here was this man telling me that a total stranger (Jesus) had died for me. I remember feeling loved instead of awkward and insignificant as I often did.
Then they asked if I believe that Jesus died for me, and I said, “Yes.” Then they asked if I wanted Jesus to come and live inside my heart, and I said, “Oh yes!”
Time passed. I entered into my teens, and unfortunate to have to say, things were no better at home. By now, my mother was pulling disappearing acts that lasted sometimes for weeks on end. I started running away from home, because no one was there anyway. I started hanging out with a much older crowd, basically because they usually had their own cribs and they didn’t need to ask permission for me to sleep over.
Not only did I run away from home frequently, I also ran away from numerous foster homes, because I was a very angry little girl who didn’t trust anyone.
I found a whole new world living on the streets, and I thought I didn’t need anyone anymore. The people who hung out on the streets seemed to love me, and they were really nice to me in their own little ways. Association with them tended to keep me preoccupied, so going to school or getting to church was no longer high on my list of priorities.
Fifteen years later I found myself in the middle of a very bitter and ugly separation from my domineering common-law husband of five years.
When I first met my live-in boyfriend, I thought he was a very loving man, (in many ways he was). He was the sole bread winner of our family. So I didn’t mind staying home doing what I thought was expected of me and I always tried to do whatever he asked of me. He was not used to me denying him anything, so when I refused to abort our unborn son to keep his budget stabilized, he was greatly taken aback because I didn’t see things his way.
He offered no sympathy or understanding behind it and immediately started withholding his monetary support from us. That’s when I saw him for who he really was for the first time.
As a result of my refusal, I found myself abandoned without resources, so I had to move into low income housing, which landed me right back into the Cabrini Green Projects with my four children and a fifth on the way.
I applied for welfare but was denied, because my ex-partner earned too much money the year before in construction.
Often he would call insisting, “If only you would cooperate and give in, everything could go back to the way that they once were.”
I determined to remain strong. I knew I had to learn how to make it on my own but I didn’t know how. Time after time he would try to get me to change my mind, and although I didn’t understand it at the time, I was suffering from another form of abuse: control.
When his constant attempts to get me to abort the child failed, he then tried to get the courts to move in a favorable manner toward him.
In weak moments I went to him, pleading for some help, but he wanted something always in return, and when I refused him, he would ignore my plight, hoping that it would eventually break me down.
Winter came. My children and I started experiencing some pretty hungry days in that three bedroom dwelling on the eighth floor. On top of that, we barely had any possessions because he had taken virtually everything we had while I was over visiting my mother one day. After that we had to sleep on the tiled but heated floors on pallets of clothing.
Broke and unable to get work, I ended up returning to my mother’s house to live for the first time since I had left because of her abuse. We didn’t live there long however because she hadn’t changed, and I couldn’t trust her to be alone with my children. She wanted power and control over all of us -- nothing had changed.
I thought over my limited options. I came to the conclusion I just couldn’t leave my children with my mother … the one who had brutalized me for years as a child made me cringe to think what she would do to my children as well.
Another option was to place them in the foster care system, and this saddened me greatly, because either way, it meant no love for my children.
The devil handed me my last option and I grabbed onto it. It seemed to be the only option I had left. Desperation is a powerful opportunity for Satan to deceive and destroy, and so blinded to my hopelessness and despair, I opened the door for him.
The option he tempted me with? My last option. Murder and suicide. I would kill all my children and then I would kill myself.
The more I thought about it … so horrible to even admit … the more inner turmoil stirred up in me. But one morning, I was determined to end my pain. I was going to follow through with it. I would murder my children, and do so as quickly as possible.
I went into the livingroom and selected the window I would utilize to end our suffering. Then … from that day forward … I set about grooming my children neatly. Once groomed, I would place them just beneath that opened eight-story window I was going to throw them out of.
Throughout the day, I’d find myself crying uncontrollably – heavy hearted and frustrated – rocking back and forth, grasping for any reason to sustain our lives just a little bit longer. While sitting there rocking, I caught myself saying so many times something my Grandmother Hazel would say so many times herself when she was faced with adversity:
"There's always tomorrow, and if I can just hold on, just hold on for one more day, then everything will be just fine in the morning - praise the Lord."
And even though in my mind I surely doubted this … deep in my heart I felt something else all together different, and this difference was what motivated me to try to stay alive for that day … while I kept hoping for a better tomorrow.
The next few mornings were very difficult for us, because we had not eaten in three whole days.
On the dawn of the fourth morning, starvation was taking its toll. My large belly was full of fresh new life, and my malnourished eight-month-old unborn son grumbled fiercely and loudly as all the bellies of my children did.
Reacting to our grave situation, coupled with the severity of the depression that gripped me daily, I became very overwhelmed.
Filled with nothing but hopelessness, grief and despair, I robotically went about my new daily routine … the grooming of my starving children … and I remember thinking: Well – this looks like this will finally be the day. This is the time.
I applied a special tenderness to each of my children that morning, as I bathed and dressed each of them. I then embraced them each for a brief moment and kissed them on their foreheads. Upon the end of each embrace, I began reminiscing of better days gone by that we had spent together, happy as a family, though it brought additional grief of its own.
It’s hard to put into words … let alone tell anyone about. Only by the help of the Holy Spirit can I.
I embraced the last of my precious babies – stood there and momentarily admired them … then crossed the livingroom floor and opened that window once more. I went about gingerly positioning them beneath it. It was so hard to not focus on the stark hunger that was written across their angel faces, and it broke my heart to know that their father could allow them to suffer so … but that’s alright, because in just a few minutes … everything would be just fine.
By the grace of God – it couldn’t have been anything else – I turned away. I went into the bathroom to pray, which was something that I didn’t do regularly, because I was struggling fiercely with emotions about God. How could an all-merciful God allow someone like me to get into a situation like this in the first place, I asked myself? Where was a compassionate, loving God at a time like this? Why would a person have to get to such a desperate place in life that I now faced? What was the use praying one more time?
Emotions? Oh yes … did I ever have emotions! Selfish emotions, as I can now look back at it, but at the time, I sure didn’t realize it, as most don’t in their pain.
I plopped down on the toilet seat and began sobbing to the depths of my soul. I cried for everything we had lost – I cried for everything that we had endured. It seemed like no one loved us or cared.
As I sat there on the toilet pondering my life, thoughts of that warm sunny day many years ago when those four white people from Moody Bible Institute had talked to me came to mind. I began to rethink of what they said to me: “Jesus died for you, and He loves you.”
That memory triggered sudden emotions of hope! I then remembered of them leading me in a prayer and my asking Jesus into my heart, and that by doing so, I had been Saved.
Suddenly it dawned on me that His love had always been right there … waiting deep within my heart … but I had allowed it to be buried so deep with the things of this life that I had no room left for Jesus. He had never left me – I had shoved Him far, far away in a back closet of my heart because of my preoccupation with myself and rebellion. I had thought I could get on in life without Him.
But no longer. I got off my porcelain throne and dropped to my knees. For the first time, in a very long time … I sincerely prayed. I poured my heart out at the mercy seat of “The Man Upstairs – the Most High God,” the One I was told who truly loved me. So through my tears of sorrow and despair and repentance, I called upon Him with all my heart.
I asked Him to help me and my beautiful children as sobs racked my chest. I did my best to tell Him that if He didn’t intervene, I was going to throw my precious children out the window first, then myself, and I really didn’t want to do that, but I needed some help right away from Him.
As I finally raised up from my kneeling position, I said, “Lord - if you are up there, pleassssssssssssse show me a sign. Help me, because I don’t know what else to do.”
When I opened the bathroom door and stepped out, I just stood there … looking at my babies who were leaning up against each other for support. I hoped that the good Lord had heard my prayer of supplication.
I began to impatiently pace the floor, becoming more frustrated than ever before, because I was not sure how God worked. At that moment I began feeling more alone that I had ever felt in my entire life, and with me having very little faith, I decided that it was now time to quit stalling and get this over with.
Maybe my mother was right. Maybe … He really didn’t care. Doubt flooded my soul. God wasn’t going to help me.
I started walking toward my children and then someone suddenly knocked on the door. I stopped. Stunned and perplexed, I looked at the front door. Another knock.
I reluctantly opened it. There stood a middle-aged light-complexioned black woman with her teenage daughter, and they both carried Bibles under their arms. They took one look at me, and with such compassion, the mother asked, “Is there anything I can do for you?”
I was moved by her compassion. Suddenly I began to sob again loudly. The woman then stepped into my apartment and took me into her motherly arms.
The daughter stepped into the apartment as well and closed the door behind her. Through tearful eyes, they looked around the room, and I could tell they were understanding what was about to take place just before their arriving at my door. Upon so realizing, the mother moved quickly to shut and lock the window.
Then that angel of mercy and her teenage daughter began to comfort me and my children. After a fashion, Sister Jenny asked me, “Can Nikki, my daughter wait here with you until I come back?”
Not knowing what else to say, I simply nodded my head in agreement. Sister Jenny left my apartment and returned shortly thereafter with bags of food and other things that she thought that we might need!
After all my family ate, she began ministering to us from the Bible, while her daughter entertained my babies. Before leaving, she invited us to come to her church, and I gladly accepted.
As soon as we were alone again, I ran into the bathroom and got back down on my knees. I went into prayer, but this time I cried to Him tears of thanksgiving and gladness and joy, over and over again, because He had heard me after all, and he did care about my precious babies and I.
I started attending church on a regular basis and eventually I was baptized, as were some of my children. Through that church I met so many people who were also new believers like myself, and they gave me all kinds of support and enough money to get out of that drab and depressing project apartment.
So now - many years later … in addition to life’s routine, I always try to make it my business to go into my bathroom daily and pray with a thanksgiving heart to my God, Jehovah-Jireh (which means: “My provider”), and I also praise the name of His Son, Christ Jesus, for shedding His blood that saved me.
Some of you reading this may be wondering why I would tell all that I told here. I tell it because there are desperate mothers all around the world just like I was, wondering why life has been so hard for them. There are desperate fathers and desperate young people wondering where is God in their time of great pain.
Honey, let me tell you, He’s no more than a whisper away. He doesn’t take delight in all your pain and suffering. He doesn’t want it continuing. But He is concerned about something far more important than the hopelessness or mess you’ve found yourself in. He’s concerned about your eternal soul. He wants you to be with Him for eternity, and He has provided only one way for that to happen. Once you invite Him into your heart to save you, He wants your total love and devotion. Not just a crumb here and there like I tossed to him. Not just a little of your left-over tears. He wants first place in your life, not last.
Most all of us have to come to the end of ourselves before we are willing to make Him first place in our heart. We have to come to the end of even wanting to live sometimes … before we’re truly willing to let Him have first place in our hearts. Let Him have ALL your heart, sweetie. And patiently trust Him to work things out. Quit feeling so sorry for yourself and begin thanking Him for helping you get out of the pain you are in. Thanking Him is the highest form of reverence and praise you can give Him, instead of constant begging and pleading for answers of WHY He has been seeming so “removed” from your situation.
Remember … you most likely got yourself to where you are right now because you didn’t ask and trust Him for wisdom and especially Godly counsel because of decisions you made in the past. Why not start becoming the wisest person you’ve met in a long time, and start asking and trusting Him for guidance from here on out, and ask the advice of godly men and women who can help you make decisions God will honor? He’s a lot more inclined to make His reality and power known to you when you do, and let His favor shine upon you.
Turn your heart totally over to Jesus, honey. Give Him time to work and don’t get all stressed out if He doesn’t move on your timetable. He’s God. His timing is always perfect and His ways are always right, even though we don’t understand that much of the time. We are selfish and impatient to the core. It just takes years of walking with the Lord to discover that fact.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I hope it has given you some much-needed hope. Jesus has all you need. Find Him, and don’t ever quit on Him. He’s the best thing you’ll ever find in this life.
***Important Staff Note (01-09-2006): Sister Robin is waiting to hear back from her doctor the results of a recent biopsy that could be cancerous. We are asking saints to lift sister Robin up in prayer during this trial, and pray and believe with us and her that the results will come back "non-cancerous."
We'll keep prayer warriors updated here on what unfolds. Thank you so much for your prayers for sister Robin.
Update: (01-16-2006): Sister Robin has been notified by her doctor that the tumor is benign! Non-cancerous! That each of you who felt led of the Lord to pray for her. Prayers have gone up all over the world for her.
Thank you, heavenly Father!
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake.
To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.
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Remember: All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity.
(Matthew 6:19-21 is our assurance)