By: Ryan Duncan
What do I do when I just don’t know how to go on?”
Ann Voskamp was asked this question not too long ago. The latest post in her blog, A Holy Experience, describes how Voskamp found herself confronted by the cold, dark reality of despair. It’s an existence many of us know all too well. We stand before God and ask, “Why?” Why did this happy couple, so full of dreams, experience a miscarriage?
Why did such a healthy young man, in the prime of his life, get diagnosed with cancer? Why did this terrible accident leave a family broken and grieving? Often times there are no answers for us, all we can do is grieve. Voskamp compared the experience to planting tulips,
“We lay our hope, full and tender, into the depths of Him and wait in hope for God to resurrect something good.”
“Good always necessitates long waiting.”
In the midst of such darkness, the prospect of giving up feels almost inevitable. Why cling to hope if it’s just going to result in more suffering? Better writers than I have attempted to answer this question, and I have no illusions of beating back depression with a few well-placed platitudes. All I can do is offer three simple reasons to keep hoping instead of giving up.
1. God Loves You
The fundamental message of the Gospel is that God loves you. Do you understand? God loves you. No matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been, God will always love you. Dr. Kenneth Hutcherson describes it like this,
“No matter what kind of situation you may find yourself facing, don’t be afraid, because God will always be with you and have your best interests in mind since He loves you. Whenever feelings of fear creep into your life, turn to God for the help you need to overcome them and successfully navigate your circumstances. Whenever you sense God calling you to do something that requires taking a risk, move forward without fear because God will empower you to do whatever He calls you to do.”
2. It’s Alright to Feel Sad
No one likes to feel sad. We frequently try to avoid feelings of pain, or bury them under the weight of our daily routines. But sorrow cannot and should not be ignored. Accepting our sorrow doesn’t mean we’re weak, or a failure, it means we’re human. Just look what Ethan McCarthy of Christianity Today had to say,
“Our faith is predicated on sadness. As we grow in Christ’s service, we begin to recognize ourselves in Christ’s sad gaze in the icons. The sadness of Jesus exemplifies the sadness of Christians everywhere, and through it the whole world is redeemed. For the sadness of Jesus is not an ultimate sadness: the Bible also promises the end of sadness, and the wiping away of all tears: ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted’ (Matt. 5:4).”
3. This is Not the End
Take a moment and think back to the crucifixion of Jesus. It’s hard to imagine a more devastating event for his friends and followers. After all the miracles they had seen, after all the hope and promise they had experienced, their messiah was killed like a common criminal. Yet that was not the end. Despite everything, Jesus was not finished,
“A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” – John 20:26-28
Hope is a frail thing, but it’s hard to kill. If you’ve found yourself struggling in the valleys of life, please don’t give up. Surround yourself with friends who will comfort you and mourn with you. If you’re suffering from depression, have courage and make an appointment with a doctor. Above all, remember that God loves you, and that will never change.
What about you? What advice do you have for those who are in pain or suffering?