How God Turns Tragedies into Foundations for Growth

As a Christian writer, I’m continually putting together the pages of a story being written by someone else. It’s my prayer that through this story, my life, the life-changing message of Jesus Christ will be declared. Already, I’ve seen my God do some incredible things, and I can’t wait to see what more He’s going to do. God has allowed me to go through some incredibly deep, painful moments, as well as countless high points.  Through each, He has taught me much, and I’m excited to have the chance to share them with you.

I was raised in a pastor’s home in Northern Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. I loved the fast-paced, ministry-centric lifestyle and really didn’t ever consider much else for my own future. In many ways, seeing the faith and joy of my dad as a father and a pastor contributed to why I surrendered to work in full-time ministry myself. Much of my high school years were spent preparing to go into ministry. I hurried off to Bible college and began studying to be an administrative pastor (kind of like studying business administration adapted to fit the church model). While finishing up my degree at West Coast Baptist College, I began to get a burden to help college-age people during the most turbulent time of their lives and started a college-age Sunday school class at my home church.

With one semester to graduation, I was about to become engaged to Kaylee (who is now my incredible wife), and was already working for my home church, where my dad led as the pastor. Upon graduating with my bachelor’s degree in Ministry Leadership Administration in May, I would be flying home to Northern Virginia to begin working on the church staff as the Singles Ministry Pastor and Assistant Pastor. I couldn’t have been more excited; I was at the highest point in my life, and life was only climbing higher.

Then life blindsided me. One day in late January, my mom filed for divorce. My entire world came crashing down. My mom moved out of state, leaving my dad and two younger siblings still at home. My dad resigned the pastorate. We even had to get rid of our dog, Angel, when we sold our house. I no longer felt right coming back to work at the church. Really, I began to question whether or not I should go on with my life as planned—finish my degree, get married, and work for a church. I pray you never experience the depth of sorrow my family stumbled through.

Nothing could have prepared me for life after my mom left. I was crushed. Demoralized. Defeated. Broken. Exactly where God wanted me to be.

In the time following, God showed me the depth of His love. I asked Kaylee to marry me as I had planned—the week after my parents split. I returned to college to finish my senior year. I began to see a new direction for my life, a direction only God could have set.

I thought my life had fallen apart. In many ways, my life did. The perfect life I had so carefully planned and guarded was gone. But it was here that God taught me a simple lesson: my “perfect” plans, however sincere, are no match or comparison for His perfect plan. How often had I ended up “playing God” by trying to figure everything out, plan every detail, and set things in motion on my own that I really have no control over?

It was as if I ran around after everything fell apart, collected the fallen pieces, and ran up to God with my bleeding hands held out full of broken shards, pleading for Him to glue everything back together.

God took the broken remains of the life I had so carefully built and threw them to the ground, not to be discarded, but to serve as the foundation for a life only He could build.

In ways that only He could have done, over the coming months God took every single plan I had made for my life and showed me something better. I joined the staff of Lancaster Baptist Church the same week I graduated from college, where I had the incredible chance to grow, learn, and develop for God’s glory. Kaylee and I were married a few months later and were able to find an amazing place to call home (a miraculous story for another day) and have enjoyed every day of wedded bliss. And while my family is still broken, God has brought my siblings, parents, and me closer than we ever had been before.

It is so refreshing to experience God build us up from the broken shards of our failed attempts at life. Don’t let Satan fool you into thinking there’s no hope. Not only is there hope in tragedy, there’s unlimited potential once we allow God to work. Pick up the broken pieces, and give them to God. He’s ready and willing to start building.

  1. I can go through anything…as long as I know… HE knows…I’m going through it! Great article Nate. Your family has had a permanent place on my daily prayer list since the night I heard. I’ll never forget that Wednesday night, and it never ceases to cause pain, but God is the only one who can completely heal the broken hearted!


    1. Thank you so much for your prayers! God is good!


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