Hope is the one thing that humans cannot live without. The lack of hope in a person’s life leads to various practices of personal destruction and self-harm. This self-harm is a result of hopelessness in the soul. Whether cutting, drug addictions, porn addictions, risky behavior, or suicide, they all point to a belief that there is no hope to live in joy and peace.
Most of us express hopelessness in less drastic ways such as complaining about our life situations, sabotaging relationships, drinking to excess, and self-medicating to deal with daily life. These behaviors stem from a belief that we are stuck in whatever miserable situation we find ourselves living in. And without God, nothing makes sense and hope is unattainable.
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
My story of wrestling the darkness
Personally, at one point in my life, I was so hopeless over the death of my stillborn son that I could barely function. Death darkened every thought I had as I laid in bed wrestling with the concept of burying him. The emptiness and cruelty of it all was too much for me to handle on my own.
The nights leading up to his funeral were agonizingly lonely. As I allowed the darkness to oppress me, I began to pull at my hair. My actions hurt yet allowed me to feel the unspoken pain deep in my wounded spirit. It is much easier to find a solution for a physical pain that you can feel and see and nurse back to health, while it is infinitely harder to deal with the repercussions of being utterly empty inside your very soul.
As humans, we often search for ways to distract us from the real issues we face. Yet, the things of this world will never fill the broken places ravaged by loss, pain, and rejection. I had cried so many tears and yet my arms were still empty. There was nothing to be done and no words to be said, and so my sadness tried to come out through harming myself physically. Thankfully, my husband awoke and helped me to realize what I was doing. I was looking for a solution or a moment of reprieve in the wrong place.
This began a process of questioning God. I wondered why He would allow me, one of His children, to hurt so profoundly. Yet through it all, I never stopped talking to Him, because I knew He was my only hope and answer to the effects of sin in this world.
Not that I had a specific sin that caused God to allow this tragedy to happen but that all of mankind is living in a fallen world due to man’s disobedience to God. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Due to sin being introduced to the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the garden of Eden, this world we live in is also full of sickness, pain, and death. Mercifully, we don’t have to live within it as those who have no hope (I Thess. 4:13). The whole Bible is God’s story of hope offered to the world. He loved us even in our disobedience and pride, and as John 3:16 tells us, he sent a perfect sacrifice, Jesus, to free us from the darkness of our own souls and world. In exchange, we must believe that He was crucified, died, and rose again, conquering death and freeing us from the penalty of sin. He forgives us and offers us hope for a future. For those who believe, there is hope that Heaven is waiting and that all suffering will be used to draw us closer to the heart of God, producing godly character and eternal reward.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Choosing to Walk in the Light
As I struggled that night to hold fast to my faith, I began to pray for God to remind me of His goodness, to push the darkness away, and to light up my life, restoring my joy. Causing myself pain didn’t solve my problems or bring my son back. It didn’t do anything but cause more pain and desperation.
So, I ran to God. I thanked Him for Heaven and the knowing that I’d see my son again. I gave thanks for the people God placed in my life to love and pray for me. I know they prayed me out of that pit!
The darkness is no comfort; no friend. It seeks to destroy us (1 Peter 1:8). Satan convinces us that we should destroy ourselves. But, we are special to God. He offers us what no one else or thing can —redemption, healing, forgiveness, joy even in suffering, and the hope of eternal life with Him.
If you are steeped in darkness, there are people that need you and your uniqueness. God designed you for a purpose. Your story matters as a part of the whole. Don’t let the devil swallow up your potential with a lie. Don’t choose darkness when light and joy are offered. Seek help if you are involved in self harm of any kind. There is an open door for those who seek and a God that can restore and heal. There is hope in Christ! Will you trust Him today?
If you need help, please reach out through email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I will commit to pray for you and point you in the direction of help! I value each of you who read these words.
This article was first published in the Chains Unchained: Friends and Sinners Vol. 3 Devotional in 2018 as compiled and edited by Wayne Nale.