The thing that makes life so great is also the thing that makes it so hard — it’s full of change, often extreme change.
Yet, in the midst of the night, our hearts often cry out, questioning, “When will the sun rise again? Will the darkness last forever?”
Seasons of hardship are just that, hard. My husband and I have experienced some tough things during our ten years of marriage, but there were a couple of years, in particular, when hardships seemed to endure relentlessly. During those years, I regularly needed injections of hope just to survive — the kind of hope that can only come from the Lord.
This especially difficult season of life gave us sudden job loss, two years of stressful, disappointing job hunting, a multi-state move, a toxic job environment, financial strain, an unexpected, complicated pregnancy, and the birth of our 10 week premature son, along with his seven week stay in the hospital NICU. We also witnessed the devastating tragedy that was my father-in-law’s fight with terminal cancer, the death of my husband’s beloved grandmother, and the heartbreaking loss of my own grandmother. Intermingle raising two young children in the midst of these struggles, the marital stresses that naturally occurs, and you can quickly recognize the lingering nature of hardships these two years brought.
Yet, even in the midst of this incredibly dark time, it always happened that when I was at my absolute breaking point, just about to give up, God would always, somehow, give me an injection of hope. Sometimes, it took the form of a simple, encouraging conversation with a friend or maybe even a prayer from a perfect stranger at church. Sometimes, it was a scripture that just jumped off the page during my quiet time. And, sometimes, God Himself would speak to directly to my heart.
One day, in the darkest of hours, when I felt like I could no longer continue as we were, God gave me hope in a special way — through a powerful dream.
As I dreamt, I found myself walking in the woods. I looked back, over my shoulder, and saw a flood of dark, murky water coming up swiftly from behind. I frantically looked to my left and then immediately to my right — water was coming in from those directions as well, giving me no clear way of escape. I walked faster, trying to outrun the rising water, only to find myself on the shore of a dark, muddy lake. At that moment, I realized that I had nowhere else to go; it was completely hopeless. I stepped into the murky water and immediately began to sink. As I sank farther down into the abyss, I called out to the Lord, “Jesus help me, I can’t do this alone — I am going to drown!” All at once, I heard the Lord reply in a calm, reassuring voice, “I am with you, Amanda. Begin to swim up slowly. You will not drown — you will be fine.”
I awakened from the dream and was immediately surrounded by the all-surpassing peace of the Lord, once again filled with His hope. And, I knew that even though the trials might not end with the coming of the day, they were only for a season, even if it seemed like a very long one! God was with me, and He would help me make it through.
God’s hope can get you through anything! It’s not that wishful-thinking kind of hope, but a real, life-altering hope that is activated by our sincere faith and trust in a loving, living God that will never forsake us, who is always there for us through every hardship.
Seasons of hardship are unavoidable — just as fall must give way to winter and day to night. Yet, even so, we are not overcome — God’s abiding hope gives us the power to persist. Just as the Word declares:
Now, may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
If, by chance, you too are going through a hard season, may this be your first injection of hope.
God has not forgotten you. He is with you, and He will not let you drown. He loves you very much — more than you can ever know.