At times, finding hope in God can be the easiest thing in the world. When we're surrounded by friends, family members, and loved ones who are all in good health, hope seems as easy accessible and as freely flowing as water from the tap when you turn the handle.
Unfortunately, not all times can be filled with happiness, smiles, and laughter-- and when tragedy hits in the form of losing a loved one, how are we expected to find hope? Where can we look to find any kind of light in the midst of such darkness?
When hard times come along, many individuals find themselves being told by friends and family: "Just let me know if there's anything I can do." While these good natured people are truly offering their help in the best way they know how, the truth is that there is simply nothing they can do to heal your broken heart. No amount of baked goods or nights out with a friend will be able to bring back who you've lost.
While it's true that there's nothing anyone else can do, there is something that you can do. In the midst of all your heartbreak and pain, you get to choose how you respond to what has happened… and what kind of story that you choose to live with your life may determine the kind of person you become.
In the book of Ruth in the Scriptures, there's a story about an old woman named Naomi-- a name which means "pleasant." At the beginning of the story, she loses her husband. She's left alone with her two sons and daughter in laws, and they support her in her grief and loss until ten years later… when both of her sons die. She just can't take it anymore; all of her blood related family members are dead. All she has left are her daughter in laws, and she tells them to just leave her in her pain.
A little later on in the story, as Naomi returns home to Bethlehem for the first time in years, old friends from town begin calling her name. They're excited to hear that she's back… but as they call out her name, she hears the meaning of her name coming back to mock her: "Pleasant! Pleasant!" Suddenly Naomi yells at those around her: "Do not call me Naomi ever again, for I am no longer pleasant. Call me Mara, which means bitter" (1:21-22). In the midst of all her suffering and grief, she decides to become bitter, jaded, and completely closed off from everyone around her.
In the Psalms (71:20-21), David decides to react a whole different way in the midst of his pain. In the Psalms, David acknowledges the pain and the miserable days that he's had to live through, but then he changes his tone as he recognizes that finding hope in God is the only way to get through this time. He knows that God will restore him again and lift him out of the deep pit he's been living within.
You have a choice today how your grief will affect you. You can choose to be like Naomi; transformed by anger and changed by pain for the worse… but you can also choose to find hope in the midst of the struggle.
May you come to see that there is something that you can do, may you find joy in the middle of your storm, and may you live a story with your life that is full of restoration and hope and peace.