“Are you waiting for God to heal you?” my husband inquired.
He was right. I wished God would pluck me out of the depths of my depression into a new life, but He didn’t. I realized the only way out of these circumstances was through the pain, not around it.
No red seas would be parted. And that’s difficult to accept when you’re in the middle of a painful circumstance.
I needed to rely on God for strength to endure this pain. He would help me move through it when I felt weak.
I needed to trust that God saw the bigger picture when I couldn’t see steps ahead of me, as if walking through a dense fog with no visibility.
Taking one step of faith at a time, I trusted He would lead me.
When I leaned into God for guidance and direction, He showed up in ways I couldn’t have imagined. He provided the support system, therapy, medication and His Word, which spoke life into my soul to help me through my darkest days. I felt God’s hand all over my life when I was fighting so hard to leave it.
God helped me endure when I desperately needed someone and couldn’t have done it alone. He carried me and walked with me through every challenging panic attack or episode of depression. Mental illness brought me to my knees again and again in full surrender, but knowing that God was with me lifted me up each time.
Hardship is inevitable in our lives; God didn’t say we are immune from suffering. As it says in John 16:33, “you will have trouble, but I have overcome the world (NIV).”
It’s a natural tendency to want to be rescued from the depths of our pain. We would rather run far away from it than face it. Or mask it with things with things we shouldn’t. Or hide from it, pretending it doesn’t exist at all.
I’ve learned that if we trust in God, He can bring us through hardship to beautiful destinations. When suffering lingers and lasts longer than we anticipate, we can trust in God’s perfect timing of change. And His presence, knowing he’ll never abandon us, will get through the hard days where defeat creeps in.
We were created to endure pain and hardship.
Endure. That’s what Jesus did on the cross. And since we are made in His image, we will endure suffering too instead of wishing it away.
One of the most beautiful stories (and possibly my favorite) in scripture of overcoming adversity is Joseph’s story. We can learn through Joseph that with God alongside, we can endure anything:
Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.
But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. (Genesis 39:17-23)
As you read Joseph’s story, you’ll notice one phrase repeated over and over: “The Lord was with Joseph.” I’m sure Joseph would have loved to be released earlier, especially because he was falsely accused, but that wasn’t part of God’s divine plan. And that’s hard to accept, isn’t it? That part of God’s plan could be walking through very difficult seasons.
God never left Joseph’s side while he sat in prison for two years. Reading the story, it may seem like God had lost control of the situation, but He knew exactly what He was doing.
We have to remember to let God be God. He’s pretty good at it.
Joseph trusted God to help him endure in the depths of the prison while waiting for God’s plan of redemption to play out. This story demonstrates that we can trust God with the unknown of our futures, no matter how grim we fear the outcome might be.
When we have very limited visibility ahead of us, remember that God sees the bigger picture. He knows exactly what He’s doing.
God is our Protector, Comforter and Redeemer. His plan always prevails, even when we feel doubt, uneasiness or defeat.
Joseph’s story shows us that God is always at work behind the scenes. He has the ability to move pieces like a chess game, bringing beauty out of the most painful circumstances. I’ve seen His faithfulness play out in my life from my decade-long battle with mental illness, my heartbreaking miscarriage as well as a medical diagnosis with my son.
Whatever you’re facing today, I encourage you to give God every ounce of your pain. What you decide to do during your season of hardship makes all the difference. It can either break your faith or grow your faith. It can either put a wedge between you and God or bring you closer to Him.
We can all learn so much from Joseph’s powerful story. Let’s rely on God to help us endure through our darkness days. God sees the brighter days ahead and will redeem our stories like He did for Joseph.