Hope in the Hard Places

Our friendship didn’t begin under normal circumstances.

It was a Sunday, and one of my prayer team members came to me after church and said a woman she prayed with was in danger of taking her own life. As the leader, I was responsible to follow up and ensure her safety. Thankfully, we found her still in the church, and one of our female pastors and I sat down with her, listened to her story, and prayed with her.

She had no one to call so she agreed to let me follow her to the hospital. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I was hesitant to get involved. First, it was poor timing because my son was home from college and leaving the next day. Dinner was waiting in the crock pot. But aside from wrecking my “plans” for the night, I also didn’t necessarily want to get involved in this “messy” situation.

But God doesn’t only ask us to do the easy things in life; He asks for our unconditional obedience. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He wanted me to walk alongside that woman. I wrote a whole book about loving people in their trials, so I went.

Sadly, that wasn’t the first time my new friend had been in that situation. I had never even heard the term, “S.I.” (suicidal intent) before that day, but she enlightened me as we waited in the ER for the intake. She explained how she would be escorted behind the double doors to the awaiting restraints, where they’d take her phone, medications, purse, and cut off her contact with the outside world.

She grew more anxious by the minute. I knew my role was to bring hope, truth, and a few practical strategies to help her get through the night ahead, so we chose a verse that she could recite all through the night to occupy her mind. And I prayed this over her, “God sees you in your pain, and He will be your glory, your shield, and the lifter of your head.”

Before I knew it, they were ready to take her to the behavioral watch unit. I hugged her goodbye, and she promised she would contact me as soon as she was allowed.

I received a text from her the next morning that said, As expected, I was kept locked up until morning with no medication. I repeated the Psalms verse over and over until my panic decreased, and I was able to sleep for a good portion of the night — something that has never happened before. I am here today because of God’s grace . . . ”

Shortly before Christmas, I learned she was back in the ER. Again, I was torn between my to-do list and obedience. After much consternation, I decided to head to the hospital and bring her a copy of my new book, Hope in the Hard Placesbecause I had just received my early author copies in the mail. Admittedly, that’s why I wrote the book — to help people in just this situation — but you don’t always know how it will be received or if it will really “work.”

Nothing could have prepared me for the text she sent me weeks later,

For years, everyone has told me, “There is hope. Look for hope. You will find hope. Hope is always there. Hope is never lost. Hope is the answer. Hope, hope, hope.” Every time, I just smiled and said, “Yes, ok,” but inside I was exploding, “How can I find hope in such an impossible situation? Don’t they see how hard it is? Hope does not exist for me!”

When you visited me in the hospital and brought me the book, at first I only saw the word hope and had the same reaction. But I started reading it as soon as I got home. I read one chapter daily and used it as a guide to hold onto each day. 

I will never forget the words you wrote: “God is with you in the middle of the darkness.” I couldn’t believe He was truly there even as I was trying to kill myself, so it kept me going. I looked up every Bible verse and Bible connection you made, and it became a guide to HOPE. Yes, the one word I was running from because it did not exist for me now started to have meaning again! 

This book changed me, my relationship with God, and my understanding of what hope is. I still struggle every day, have some horrible nights, go through intolerable panic and anxiety attacks, painful flashbacks and nightmares, but I have no doubt God used you in my life to remind me about His promise and the hope there is in Him.”

Friends, no matter how hard your situation seems, I want you to know God is the author of life, and He cares for yours more than you know. Press on in hope.

Take it from my new friend: God is with you in the middle of the darkness, and there is hope in Him.

He sees you.

He will sustain you.

He is a shield around you.

And He is the lifter of your head.

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