“We rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”Romans 5:3-5
A few years ago, I had to decide if God really existed…because if he did, then how could he still be good if he was aware of my hardships and let them continue?
I couldn’t understand how a God that is completely love, would allow his children to suffer.
Suffering Produces Perseverance
My troubles all started in 2014 when I developed some disturbing health issues. My right arm was constantly tingling and throbbing. At times I felt like I was holding a vibrating cellphone when I wasn’t. The pain around my collarbone was so excruciating that I had trouble breathing.
Over time, my unknown disease progressed and most of my medications exacerbated my symptoms. I was left bedridden, unable to care for myself or my family. I started experiencing all sorts of neuropathy pain like twitching, tremors, numbness, tingling, migrating pain, and crawling skin. At my worst, I had hair loss, rashes, panic attacks, blurred vision, paranoia, nausea, vomiting, fainting, air hunger, seizures, and brain fog.
Eventually, I had trouble holding a conversation and was in so much pain that I couldn’t walk to the bathroom on my own. Every test was normal, and doctors began to question my sanity.
After two and a half years, I was diagnosed with Late-Stage Lyme Disease (aka Chronic Lyme), which presented another set of problems. I learned that the disease is highly controversial, and navigated an underground world of Lyme treatment. Nothing was covered by insurance and communicating with doctors was often difficult and secretive.
My journey with Lyme tested my faith in ways I never dreamed and I had days where I wished I could sleep away years of my life.
I was annointed with oil, prayed over by elders in our church, and pleaded with God night after night. I didn’t know what else I could do to get him to make this all go away.
Perseverance Produces Character
It wasn’t until later that I began to recognize God’s goodness in the middle of my misery. He was slowly pushing me to trust him one hard step at a time. It wasn’t that he wasn’t there. It was that I wasn’t looking for him in the right places.
It was in this hard time that I learned the peace that comes with the surrender of control and trust in Jesus, to believe that he will carry you through if you simply hold on. I realized that while my health hadn’t improved—my relationships, my marriage, our monetary blessings and friendships were blossoming.
Everyone around us encouraged my family daily, my parents moved in to take care of me, we were able to afford a nanny for the kids, I could try out expensive treatments and my husband’s boss was helpful in giving him time off without repercussions.
As I began to trust more and more each day, I found that God was healing me spiritually instead of physically. I craved Sunday morning worship even if it meant arriving in a wheelchair. I lost my filter and had hard conversations with my family members, strengthening our distant relationship we’d had living across the country from each other for years.
While my body was still struggling, my mind was slowly but surely coming back to me in big ways. I grew in the wisdom of addressing my mental state and acknowledging that I would never heal if I didn’t believe I could.
There was one day in particular I remember asking myself, If this is your life from here on out—if you never get better—is this how you want to live it? Angry, bitter, depressed, hopeless, waiting for a day that may never come?
In that moment, I told myself that I would live the best life I could despite whatever was in front of me, if not for myself, but for the two precious children I had depending on me.
I had no hope left in me before. Now I could see a glimpse of it.
Character Produces Hope
After a year and a half of treatments, I began to see major improvements in my body.
I continued to invest in a healthy mindset. I read book after book of others who went through hard times and read of their successes through self-care practices like meditation, using a gratitude journal or getting outside into the sunshine every day. Over time, I saw a pattern of positive thinking and physical healing in my body that I couldn’t ignore.
It was through this mindset change that I began blogging with the hope to encourage others struggling in their hardships to dig deep into their own spiritual lives.
5 Ways to Find Hope in your Hardship: How to Stay Hopeful in Difficult Times
It’s never an easy journey to grow into a better version of yourself. However, for anyone wanting more out of life (and I think that’s most of us), here are a few suggestions I have for persevering through your own hardship so that you can grow in character and finally hold onto some of that hope He promises.
Stop “Googling” and Read Your Bible
As humans, we want to feel like we are in control. It makes us feel safe. I have spent countless nights trying to figure out the answers to all of my health problems, and honestly, not once did it work out for me. Take a step back, pray and read your Bible. God will grant you wisdom when you ask for it. He will direct you to who you need to turn to. My help came through the guidance of friends, family and doctors, not Google.
Be Patient and Stay Positive
God’s timing is not our own. I am finally in a place where I can look back and make connections to big things God was doing in my life. At the time, I felt abandoned and lonely. I felt unheard and ignored. He wasn’t ignoring me, he was creating something amazing in me that I couldn’t even imagine at the time.
I’ve seen this suggestion over and over in every self-help book I’ve read. Turns out, it’s all over the Bible too! Get a notebook and write down anything you can think of that you can be thankful for that day. Maybe it’s something in nature, maybe it’s a small accomplishment. One day I wrote, “didn’t throw up.” Seriously, write it down. Not only will you become more aware of the goodness around you, it will change the way you think about your situation and others going through their own trials.
Get a Support System
Who in your life do you admire? Who has been through something difficult and came out stronger for it? Ask them about it! Tell them to pray with you, ask them for guidance and resources that will encourage you as you struggle with what to believe about God in your situation.
Acknowledge Miracles for What They Are
Why is it that when bad things happen we assume the world is against us, but when good things happen, we often rack them up as coincidences? Keep your eyes and ears peeled for little miracles all around you. Did you pray for peace? Notice those moments you get a glimpse of it. Did you pray for wisdom? Thank God for the friends, doctors and books that give it to you. He is always working, friend. You just have to look for him!
For More Encouragement:
I would love to encourage you on your journey toward deeper spiritual growth by sending a free printable Monthly Scripture Writing Workbook your way! Each month covers a new topic and one verse to write out in a journal each day.
In addition to the workbook, I have more than 75 other free pages in my printable library for women who want to grow in their personal and spiritual lives. Just visit this link to subscribe to my newsletter and receive the link to the freebies.
I pray that you are encouraged by my story and wish you the best in your journey toward deeper spiritual growth. You’ve got this!