God’s Love Amidst Multiple Misfortunes
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Joshua Mason’s life was a waking nightmare by the age of five. Abused daily at the hands of his stepfather, he lived in constant fear. Then something changed it all – the birth of his half-brother, Lucas.
“There was joy in the home, and it was such an exciting time, and no one was getting physically abused,” Joshua said. “That was the moment that I actually saw what a family could be. Then, about two months into after she had the baby, all of a sudden I heard her scream, ‘My baby is dead, my baby is dead.’”
Lucas had succumbed to Sudden infant death syndrome. Broken hearted, Joshua’s mother sank into alcoholism while his stepfather became ever more violent towards him. Fearing for his life, his mother gave him a choice.
'"If you say yes, you can never come back,’” Joshua recalled his mother saying. “She pulled an airplane ticket out of her purse and she said, ‘This is a flight to your real father's house.’ I said, ‘Yes.’ I knew I had to get out of there. I was so sad that I was going to leave my mother behind, but I had to go.”
At 12-years-old, he was taken to the airport and put on a flight to his biological father, who gave him a stable home for the next several years. After college, at twenty-three, Joshua started dating a woman and she became pregnant. He was overjoyed to finally have the happy family he’d longed for, but the death of his half-brother haunted him.
“When she had my daughter, Lauren, it was such a beautiful moment,” Joshua said. “In my mind I had to make it three months, which to me, the research I had done said that Sudden infant death syndrome is the most common, or you have to worry about it in that first ninety days. Once you pass that point, then you’re okay. I was very particular about every little thing that could cause Lauren harm. I did have that level of fear because I went through that traumatic experience.”
Then one morning, just a few days to the 3-month mark, Joshua awoke to the voice of his partner’s older daughter.
“'Mommy, mommy, you're lying on the baby.’ I ran over there to her and I snatched my daughter out from between her and the recliner,” Joshua said. “As soon as I held her and I looked down, I knew that she was dead. I felt so much anger to the woman. I blamed God. ‘Why did you take her from me?’”
Joshua separated from his partner and spent the next several months struggling with severe depression. Eventually he got a new job and began dating another woman, trying to start his life over. But this time he was determined to not have children. Then one day, to his surprise, his girlfriend told him she was pregnant.
“I was terrified,” Joshua said. “I talked to her about how important it is for me to make it to that three-month mark, because Lucas didn't make it to that three-month mark. Lauren didn't make it to that three-month mark, very close. Just a gripping fear."
Two months and twenty-seven days after his daughter, Arianna, was born, Joshua came home one evening – to an empty house and a note.
“That note reads, ‘I'm sorry. It's too overwhelming for me. My mother and grandma came to get a U-Haul and take me back to South Carolina.’ Only three days to go at that point,” Joshua said. “Everything's gone. I've lost my family for the second time. That's when I decided, well, I'm just going to self-destruct.”
He began drinking heavily and taking prescription pills to numb his pain, but it wasn’t enough. A friend from work was shooting meth, so Joshua gave it a try.
“I became instantly addicted,” Joshua said. “I just don't care anymore about anything. That was an eight-year battle.”
Lost in his addiction and hurts, Joshua did his best to shut out the world. But then he met a Christian woman named Isela and the two became close. She would often pray for him and encourage him to come to church. Joshua hated God, but after experiencing an overdose that nearly killed him, he wanted to change.
“She would always tell me from the beginning, ‘You need God.’ So, I started going to church,” Joshua said. “At one service, the pastor said something that really, really stuck out to me. He said, ‘The devil comes to kill steal and destroy.’ I had essentially blamed God for killing my daughter, stealing my family and destroying my life. But I never knew that there was an enemy or the Devil on the opposite end, and that that was who the blame needed to be on and should have been on. One night I came home from a service and I went into the bathroom like I normally do, and I got the little baggie of methamphetamines out. I got the needle on the counter and I'm looking at it and I just thought, ‘I have to stop. God if you'll...if you'll have me, I want to give my life over to you.’ And I took that bag and I flushed it down the toilet. I surrendered that night to Jesus. I felt joy again.”
Following that night, through prayer and reading the Bible, Joshua found the strength in God to overcome his addiction. He also came to terms with his past, forgiving his abusive stepfather and those he’d blamed for destroying his families. He is now married to Isela and serves in ministry, helping to meet people’s physical needs while pointing them to Jesus. Joshua says that God has blessed him with the family he’d always hoped for.
“My family is my wife. It's the ministry that I'm in now, which God led me to,” Joshua said. “I have my family now and I feel complete. No matter how dark times get, there is a way that you can overcome whatever you're going through and that you can do that through God and by surrendering to Jesus. I went from the bottom and now I'm at the top and I did that through God.”
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