I remember attending youth camp years ago, so excited to get away from the suburbs and be in nature. Each night after our large group sessions, we would walk back to the cabin. The night sky was an inky black, so dark that it was hard to see your hand in front of you. My friends and I huddled close together, walking slowly by the path of the flashlight.
This summer has been like a season full of those dark nights. It feels like we are wandering around in the dark as our family has walked through trial after trial. It is exhausting. Each night, I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow due to the physical and mental exhaustion of a long day. But when I inevitably awake in the middle of the night, I find that my heart is heavy with fear and anxiety as unbidden thoughts race through my mind.
What if this next season is still really hard?
Is God ever going to deliver us from this season? Does he see us? Does he care?
Will we have enough money to be able to afford ________?
Why did I say _________ today? What do other people think of me?
On and on the thoughts go, taking on a life of their own. The difficult thing about both nighttime and night seasons is that it’s so hard to remember what God has done in the seasons of light. The circumstances threaten to overtake everything I’ve learned.
God’s Hand in the Darkness
In Matthew 14:22–33, the disciples were in the midst of a dark and stormy night. They were terrified as they saw Jesus walking toward them on the water, but Peter called out to him, saying, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water” (14:28). Peter took a literal leap of faith and began to walk on water, but when he looked at the wind and the waves, his fear overtook him and he began to sink. Jesus didn’t scold him or look at him with disappointment. Instead, Jesus “immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (14:31).
Just as Jesus reached out his arm to Peter, know that he reaches down to you in the depths of your sorrows, helping you remember that your doubts are nothing compared to his might and strength. When our eyes are on the difficulties of our circumstances, we sink under the waves of discouragement as we struggle to see the goodness of God amid unrelenting adversity. The anxious thoughts that plague us can seem louder in the middle of the night. In the dark, they threaten to drown us with doubt and fear.
Rooting ourselves in Scripture is our surest way of enduring in seasons of suffering. Starting the morning off in the Word is what will keep us afloat during the stormy night seasons. Making the choice to put the Word before world will ground our hearts and minds by bringing our thoughts back to Jesus. When we look to the truth of God’s Word, we see our suffering in light of eternity, recognizing that he has a sovereign plan that is immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20).
The Hands of Friends in the Darkness
God did not intend for us to walk through life alone. In his gracious kindness, he offers us the gift of community. But how often do we want to do it all on our own? Much of my anxiety stems from the mistaken thought that I have to do everything by myself.
In the midst of anxiety, depression, and discouragement that threatens to consume your heart and mind, asking for help can seem overwhelming too. It can be hard to let someone into the storm of your life and ask them to be a calming presence by supporting you. But Jesus told the disciples in John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Furthermore, Paul encourages us to “bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ…as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:2,10).
Sister, you do not have to believe the lie that you are all alone in your circumstances. You do not have to live isolated by all-consuming fear and anxiety.
Light in the Darkness
Remember, we have been made free in Christ (Gal. 5:1). Our heavenly Father is for us, not against us. (Rom. 8:31). We are not meant to save ourselves. There is only one Savior—Christ the Lord! So when you feel completely consumed by hopelessness due to unfortunate and excruciating circumstances, know that there is a God who loves you who offers his hand to you. He is your refuge, strength, and help in trouble (Ps. 46:1). His Word is available to encourage your heart any time of day or night. And he gives you others to walk alongside you, helping you look to the light in even the darkest of night seasons.