My Father Is a Promise Keeper : Grace Park
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Growing up, my family always seemed like a fairly normal one. I lived with both parents, they ran a successful business, we were financially stable, I was a good student; we had most things a typical Korean-American family hoped for and dreamed of. However, the reality was that we were a pretty broken family. My father dealt with severe anger and drinking issues which led to frequent physical and verbal abuse, and my mother suffered from epilepsy since childhood so I grew up being her caretaker whenever my father was away on a business trip. I regularly watched her collapse and have seizures. This comprised most of my life until I entered college, which was when everything began to change.
I started attending church in middle school, and ever since I was pretty involved in church activities. I loved every second of it because it felt like an escape from whatever was happening at home. Like many others, I would experience the occasional “spiritual highs,” but I definitely did not fully know what it meant to be a Christian. It was only when I began to see my life fall apart that I was able to witness the Lord put my life together. Through my suffering, I was truly able to experience and know the love of Jesus in a way that I’ve never felt before.
When I entered college, my family’s business had begun to rapidly decline and the stress of financial burdens only added to the deterioration of my parents’ relationship. At the end of my freshman year, my parents got into what seemed like just another fight. However, it ended up being the last one before my mother packed up her belongings and left for good. My father was arrested that Sunday morning on charges of domestic violence, and I, after a yelling match with my mother, stormed out of the house and headed to church - my usual place of refuge when things at home were rough. After countless trips to the local criminal court and city prison, my father was released. Since then, it has been just the two of us.
That year continued on to be the one of the most difficult years of my life. We continued to have run-ins with law enforcement throughout that month because he was no longer allowed to legally reside at our current address. We were not aware of this until he was arrested again. That same summer, I suddenly got the most sick I’d ever been and attempted to end my life because it was all just too painful. I somehow miraculously survived. Later that year, I would be sexually assaulted on multiple occasions by my so-called boss at my very first job. Sounds pretty dramatic and depressing, right? Well, there’s more.
My father’s business continued to fail to the point where we could eventually no longer afford my tuition, so I was forced to take a leave and began to help him with his business full-time. Like I mentioned previously, he always had lots of anger issues, so you can imagine that I had quite a bit of pent-up animosity towards him. Spending 24/7 with him only aggravated it, and on many occasions I seriously considered packing up my belongings and running away from him. One night, after countless months of being in deep depression and wondering why my life was so miserable, I decided to finally and randomly open up my Bible. I had so many questions: “Why was my life so different from others? Why did I go through all of that? Is there even a reason? Why can’t I find anyone around me to relate to any of my problems?” I said to myself, “If the Word of God is really alive and has the power to speak to you, this random page I’m about to turn to BETTER speak to me somehow or else I might start really questioning His existence.” So that’s what I did. I turned to a completely random page, started reading, and within seconds, I was laying there bawling on my bed: “…and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
You may think that it would all be sunshine and rainbows from here on out, but it seems like He truly meant it when Jesus said that following Him was not going to be easy. Though I had a sense of peace from knowing that Jesus was walking with me every step of the way, I still struggled. I continued to wrestle with feelings of anger and hatred towards my parents. On top of that, with each passing year, I silently yearned to go back to school and start living my own life, but financially, I couldn’t see any hope. I enviously watched all of my friends graduate and live their lives, while I ultimately settled on the idea that this was just my fate.
Earlier this year, after 4 long years of financially hitting rock bottom and being out of school, our family business began to pick up speed for the first time ever. And out of the blue, I received conviction and motivation to go back to school. In addition, I received the courage to announce to my father that I would. Anticipating that he would take it very offensively and harshly, I broke the news to him, but to my surprise, he was fairly calm about the situation. Knowing his crazy personality, I was confused; nevertheless I was overjoyed at the thought of returning to school. Even now, I cannot help but choke up at the thought of this whole situation because I know for a fact that this was all orchestrated by God.
Looking back on my life, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: God is a promise keeper. That’s just who He is and nothing will ever change that. It may take time, even years, but He has not forgotten about you. My life has become something so drastically different from what I had imagined it to be, but God clearly had something better in mind. I may not always understand His ways, but I fully trust and know that His ways are better.
I know that there will be mountains thrown in front of me again, but I’m okay with that because if God has brought me this far, there’s no way He’s going to leave me now. I know that life here on earth will continue to be difficult, but I am content with that because this life is temporary and this is not my home. My earthly parents may not have been perfect, but I have a Father in heaven that loves me so deeply and intricately, and that’s more than enough for me.