You may be at the end of your rope. Wow, that's a strange way to start a column you may think. But I have discovered when many pick up the paper they are looking for hope.
You may have been living in a deep, dark cavern of hopelessness with no apparent way out. The future may seem to be an impossible place to reach, but all you have to do is to make one final choice - the choice to persevere.
Stephen Arterburn in his book, "Healing is a Choice" devotes an entire chapter to the choice to persevere. He says, "You may be ready to give up because you have attempted every other choice, but nothing has changed. You may be lifeless and stagnant because you seem to be the exception to every rule. What other people try just does not seem to work for you. If there is a new life for you, you are not able to find it. If that is you, you have one more choice to make and that is the choice to persevere."
Whether you see it right now, your life is valuable. It holds meaning, purpose and joy, if you will just hold on a bit more. Psalm 139:14 states, "You have been fearfully and wonderfully made." Any feeling otherwise has been whispered by the enemy who has come to steal and destroy. You can have a different life, a life full of hope and a future. But, you will need to persevere.
Often I tell my grieving clients that they need not worry about the future. Right now just take it one day at a time. For many, one day seems like too much, so take one minute at a time. I remember the morning after my husband died. I was feeding the baby and cried, "How will I ever pay for her college?" Now that didn't feel funny at the time, not one bit. Looking back I think, "How silly to have been worrying about her college when she was 9 months old?"
There were days I thought I didn't think I could make it. But look, it's been 24 years and I did make it. There have been other things equally as hard to face since August 1986, but still by and through the grace of God I have made it. I am still here. And, my friend, so can you. Whether you have suffered loss, abuse, heartache or you are the abuser in a relationship, by the healing powers of God, you can make it.
Arterburn writes to an abuser, "Pray for the miracle, but be realistic. God knows you and loves you in spite of the difficult circumstances you have created for yourself. He can help you in them, but be realistic about whether or not the circumstances will change. Then work on your soul that it heals no matter what the circumstances."
One key to healing is to not have unrealistic expectations of your circumstances. God is with you and wants to grow your character. The quick fix or instant solution does not do that. It takes work and time to heal your soul from the inside out. I am afraid that often right before the evidence of God's work shows up, the person has already given up. Do not let that be you. I gave a relative a card once with a bulldog on the front. When you open it up, it reads, "Never, never, never, never, never give up." Nothing profound, but the message of perseverance is there.
I love the story of Gideon. Gideon had a big job to do. Some bad guys were torturing God's people and Gideon's job was to defeat the enemy. He was to bring down 135,000 warriors with only 300 men. Gideon is like you and me. He doubted, he complained and then Gideon persevered, did what he was told, and God brought victory.
God can handle your doubt, so go ahead and doubt, but persevere. Carry on, and move forward. Another reason, says Arterburn, to persevere is that "in the midst of adversity and affliction is that they eventually will make us happy if we stay grounded in God's word and do the next right thing.
"God lays a dark background, and then, just when it can be made no darker, there is a stroke of light. A brushstroke of gold or silver covers the darkness and brings glory to God. You may be in the darkest part of your life, but do not despair. God is about to unleash his light upon it, and you will see his glory in it all. All of your sorrow and struggle and pain will be used for your good and his glory. He will not waste a thing. So, don't give up on God. Give up on some of your old ways, but do not give up on God. It is time to persevere.
(Kimberly Short-Wolfe, MA, is a homeschool mom a grief counselor and chaplain for Mountain Hospice. To contact her, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 304-823-3925, ext. 136.)