I first read Hope in the Dark during a significant valley in my life—my husband and I had suffered a miscarriage and in a moment, our lives went dark. I remember the doctor saying, “I’m so sorry …” and click. The lights turned off in my life and I was immediately shrouded in darkness. I walked out of the hospital, a stranger in a foreign land. The sun was condescendingly bright that day and sadness filtered my senses, muting the colors of the world around me. Life was definitely not good.
The grief came in unrelenting waves. I had trouble articulating my feelings, was paralyzed by anguish, and felt isolated and hopeless. This wasn’t part of my plan, and God didn’t make sense. Slowly the questions rolled in, then quickly tumbled past each other.
What did I do?
What didn’t I do?
Do You care?
Are You even there?
Craig Groeschel, my friend and pastor, emailed me a manuscript and simply said, “I wrote this for you.” Little did I know it would one day become the Hope in the Dark book released for the whole world. After I finished reading it, I closed my laptop and cried deeply. Colors shifted slightly and came into focus. My world was a little brighter and for the first time in weeks, I felt hope. And more importantly, I knew I wasn’t alone.
In processing the grief with a counselor and my husband, I was able to move on to acceptance. My marriage became stronger and my faith grew deeper. Many months later, I became pregnant again; this time it was a girl. Occasionally the shadow of grief would darken the corners of my thoughts. My son’s due date came and went, the blue onesies I bought were gifted to friends. Before long, my youngest daughter was born healthy and happy. A ray of light to anyone who sees her. Others would comment on the age gap between my middle child and my youngest. This time, I was able to articulate my emotions and express my grief to loved ones.
Some time later, I started noticing signs of my mind resenting my body. It would whisper its doubts: Your body can’t be trusted. Your body has turned on you. Those cold thoughts grew in the back of my head and got stronger until I started to feel that I was held captive in a body that had killed my baby. My mind stopped wanting to take care of my body and began the slow torture of punishing itself. The symbiotic and loving relationship mind and body once shared was gone. Gone was the athlete. Gone was the competitor. Gone was my drive. My mind locked my body in a cage and drove out all thoughts of self-love.
I was angry. How was I back here? Years after losing a child and I was still held in grief’s grip? This was a different facet of grief—one that allowed me to feel joy, hope, and love for others but didn’t allow me to love myself. I had allowed my mind to victimize my body, but instead of sinking back into deep darkness, I fought. I found a workout I enjoyed (indoor cycling) and began yet another phase of my healing—one of loving, encouraging, and challenging myself.
One day while spinning, I hit a wall. I was hungry, tired, and just stupid sore when that small voice pulled at me to quit. It dragged at my feet with every rotation, questioning my resolve, reaching out with promises of comfort. I began to stare into myself, deeper and deeper into my reflection until I looked past my own image and into that dark place beyond, with its infinite and terrifying questions: Do I have what it takes? When I cannot give any more, can I give anything more?
I pushed into a new place, and broke down the barriers I had used to safeguard my comfort. I stared into the abyss, afraid that I would find a coward, but cried when I found a conqueror. My spirit, mind, and body united in that moment, facing the obstacle together, climbing the last steps out of the valley. I threw my hands up and praised God for His goodness.
The healing process has been a long journey of both renewing my mind and restoring my body. When I look back over my life, this hasn’t been the only valley God’s walked me through (and I suspect it won’t be the last). I keep onward, forward into a deeper faith. Today I can say that my relationship with Him is stronger and I am secure in Him, both in the valley and on the mountain. Every day I choose hope and believe that God is good even when life isn’t.
If you’re in the middle of a trial right now, here are some things to keep in mind when choosing to hope amid life’s darkness.
Choose to hope, knowing that …
- It’s okay to question. Doubt is essential to your spiritual maturity. Go one step further and ask God to help you overcome your unbelief (Mark 9:21-24).
- It’s okay to cry out to God. Don’t hold back when you are hurting. Allow yourself to bring all of you to Him, both the praise and the pain (Psalm 18:6, Psalm 34:17-18).
- It’s okay to share your grief with others. It’s tempting to isolate yourself. But God created us to be in community with others and to share our burdens (Galatians 6:2, Hebrews 10:24-25).
- It’s okay to wait and listen. Culture seeks to push us past our pain quickly, but God encourages us to wait on Him and His promises (Psalms 27:13-14, Lamentations 3:25-26).
- You will get through this. God has a plan for you. No matter what you are going through, this valley is not forever—God will bring you through this (Isaiah 40:31, Romans 8:28).
If you find yourself in darkness, grasping for hope, I pray my story will bring you encouragement to continue to hope in a God who loves you and sees you. Start the Hope in the Dark Bible Plan right now. Reach out to someone. Ask for prayer. Continue to choose hope, no matter what.