“They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor” (Isa. 61:3).

It was the worst time in my life. Feeling betrayed by God, I stormed out of the door and walked up the heavily wooded hill behind my house. Reaching the hilltop, I raged at God. “God!” I shouted, “Is this how you treat someone who is faithful to You?! I’ve waited and waited. I’ve worked and prayed. And for what? For this?” My lungs hurt and my throat was raw – but I had one more thing to say to God. “I hate You, God! I hate You!”

I sat down on an old oak tree that had broken at the base and was lying on the ground. For the next three hours, I sobbed uncontrollably, unable to speak, unable to pray. I wondered how God could abandon me. I wondered if He even existed. Maybe I had wasted my life believing in a myth.

Finally, I got up to leave. When I looked over at the fallen oak that I had sat on, I noticed something interesting. The fallen tree was pointed toward the base of another oak tree – a tree that stood strong and tall with wide spreading branches. At that moment, I heard a quiet voice inside me say, Today, like this broken oak tree, you are a broken man. But this brokenness was needed in order for you to become like the large, strong oak tree that stands before you.

Years later, I would look back and know that God Himself had spoken to me out of my period of darkness and silence.

Even when I raged at God and told Him I hated Him, God was faithful and forgiving. Today, He has replaced the ashes of my despair with the oil of gladness. He has planted me firmly like a strong and sturdy oak tree, and I live my life in gratitude for His mercy.

Do you find yourself in a dark place? Share your true feelings with God. You’ll be surprised how well He is willing to listen.

Os Hillman

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