You’re going through a struggle right now.
Maybe it’s in the form of depression or panic attacks, so debilitating that you physically shut down and can’t do anything. Wanting to scream and rage and cry and knowing that you can’t really do that, and even if you did, it wouldn’t help anything, and the fear and pain and destruction would still be there, gnawing at your insides, making you want to die, to do anything to escape from the torture. Wondering how much longer you can survive in the face of constant mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion.
Maybe you have cancer or another serious disease, and you’re not sure whether you’ll live or die. You’re in and out of the hospital constantly, you’re doing the treatments they tell you you need (the ones you can afford, anyway), and you have no idea if they’re even doing any good. You wonder what the point of all this is, and how much longer it’ll go on. Sometimes you think death would actually be a relief. But then you realize that you don’t want to die, and the thought cycle starts all over again.
Maybe your child is very sick, and you are faced with the horrifying prospect of seeing the most precious human being on the planet dying right in front of you, and you are powerless to help. Understanding that you would instantly give anything and everything, including your own life, to make this little one whole again, begging to be allowed to do it just this one time, but knowing that you can’t . . . that no one can.
Maybe you’re an entrepreneur or run a small business, and you constantly feel the tension between the way things are currently done, and the way they can be done. Realizing that you could easily go and get a “regular” job somewhere and ease so much stress, but that wouldn’t satisfy your desire to succeed in creating something out of nothing.
Maybe you know a certain set of truths about art, philosophy, or religion, and you spend more time and effort than you care to recall trying to show others the immense possibilities this life has to offer if they would just open up their eyes and see. Knowing that changing a life in this way is a privilege, but wondering if it’s worth the toll it takes on you.
Maybe you’re going through the intense emotional pain of a broken relationship, and you can’t bring yourself to forgive the other person. Perhaps you can’t even forgive yourself. Craving the love and comfort of someone special to you, but feeling that somehow you must not be worthy of that experience.
Maybe you have no money. Work is scarce, bills are due, debt overshadows you, and help is far away. Wondering what will happen to your family when you can’t afford a place to live or food to eat. Thinking there’s no way something like that should happen to you, but knowing there’s a very real chance that it will . . . and it’s frightening.
When you’re lying awake at night wondering how you’re going to get through everything you have to deal with, it may help to remember the following.
People weaker than you have succeeded.
People stronger than you have failed.
At least that’s what it looks like on the surface. But when it comes to making it through the pain in your life, it’s rarely the external circumstances that matter. It’s all about faith. And I’m not talking about faith in yourself, either – the belief that you’ll get it done through sheer determination. Yes, that’s a part of it, but most of those who run on pure drive and determination will ultimately tire out and fade at the end.
That’s the beauty of having true faith. It doesn’t tire out like determination does. When determination tires, nothing gets done, and all is lost. But when faith tires, it rests in hope and love. It abides. It grows stronger in rest. Because faith knows that it can’t do this alone. It puts its trust in something more important than itself . . . in God and also in others.
There are always those who believe in you, who support you, who love you. Sometimes they’re right by your side. Sometimes they’re not. Wherever they are, seek them out. Talk to them. Listen to them. Cherish them.
They’re right about you, you know. They see the best in you – the part of yourself that’s always there, but you don’t always feel. The part of you that’s beautiful, strong, and resilient. Let them remind you of who you really are.
Struggle is the human condition, but hope is the human spirit.
And there is always hope.
(If you’d like the extended PDF version of this piece, you can get it below.)
(Image source: Pink Sherbet Photography)