How to Hold on to Hope in the Dark – Encouragement for Today – December 20, 2017

Alicia Bruxvoort

December 20, 2017
How to Hold on to Hope in the Dark

"My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long?" Psalm 6:3 (NIV)

He was at my bedside once again, the hot breath of his raspy whisper hovering quietly over my pillow. "Mommy, I'm awake. Can I get up now?"

I persuaded my eyes to open and peered at my son through a sleepy haze. "No, honey," I responded with gentle sureness. "It's not morning yet."

I didn't need to look at the green glow of my alarm clock to know it wasn't time to rise and shine. This fourth-born of mine was a night-gallivanting suitor of the sunrise. And for a short (but grueling) season of his childhood, he consistently rose at 3 a.m. and clamored to begin his day.

I slid my feet out of bed and placed my hands on my son's slender shoulders. I steered him down the hallway to his bottom bunk and tucked him beneath the blankets with a kiss and a prayer. Then I implored him to snooze until sunrise.

But when the hours stretched long and his patience wore thin, my sleepless one returned with a whimper and a wail.

"Will morning ever come?"

I looked at that little silhouette from my bedside, framed in a shaft of moonlight and felt a wave of empathy wash over my weariness.

I've asked that same question in the darkness before. Maybe you have, too ...

When a diagnosis plunges us into the unknown; when the sting of rejection leaves us scarred and alone; when our best dreams shatter and fall apart; when fear imprisons and worries flood our heart ... we find ourselves wrestling with our questions in the darkness of disappointment and despair. And we wonder ...

Will peace ever trump this pain?
Will joy ever replace this sadness?
Will beauty ever grow from this brokenness?
Will morning ever come?

It's in these "long nights of the soul" where we can find great comfort in Scripture, especially the book of Psalms. Through these words, we peer into the hearts of other wrestling souls and hear the timeless echoes of our own impatient cries.

"My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long?" (Psalm 6:3, NIV)

"How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?" (Psalm 13:2, NIV)

“How long must I wait?" (Psalm 119:84a, NLT)

But the Psalms offer more than empathy when we've reached the end of our rope. These sacred words suggest a strategy for holding on to hope.

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life." (Psalm 143:8, NIV)

"But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress." (Psalm 59:16, NLT)

The timeless truth of the Psalms remind us our hope doesn't hinge on the surety of the sunrise, but on the fidelity of the Risen Son.

God's Word reminds us that even when our circumstances sway, Christ's love remains the same. (Romans 8:38-39) Though our faith may waver, His faithfulness won't. Hope flourishes when we shift our gaze from the darkness that surrounds us to the Love that encircles us. And there, in the certainty of His love, we find peace for the present and strength for the days to come.

The stars still hung in the dark sky above us, and my son's question still hung in the silent space between us.

So I pulled my worried boy beside me and assured him the night would not last forever.

Then I hummed a little song from Sunday School in his ear, and he murmured those simple words of faith with me in the darkness. "Jesus loves me, this I know ..."

And together, we waited expectantly for morning.

Dear Jesus, thank You for being with me in my times of distress and my times of delight. Help me cling to your faithfulness when I'm losing my grip on hope. Shift my eyes away from my questions and qualms, and set my sights on your unquestionable love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Psalm 30:5, "For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." (NIV)

Lamentations 3:22-23, "The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning." (NLT)

As we are too often led astray by what the world has to offer, the same was true for God's people. And, like the Israelites, we're left with the question: When will our final rescue come? Join us for the study of 1 and 2 Kings: A Story of God's Grace for a Rebellious People. The study launches January 1 on the First 5 app! Order your Experience Guide today.

Join Alicia Bruxvoort at her blog today, and grab a free printable to encourage you in those "long nights of the soul."

Choose a verse that reminds you of the unfailing love of Christ. Speak it aloud when you feel worried or unsure.

© 2017 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

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