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As a small child, I was terrified of storms because I thought each one carried a tornado in it. When the storm warnings would come on the T.V., the atmosphere around me was one of fear and anxiousness, so by default, I picked up that energy. I would suffer through intense fear because no one reassured me it would be ok.
What I’ve realized is that each storm prepared me for the next one. Through the experience, I was no longer fearful and anxious. It’s not to say I didn’t have a healthy fear of storms, but I was confident Who holds me. God reassured me it will all turn out.
A Perfect Storm
I was hit with pretty intense postpartum depression after baby number five. The events surrounding the birth were hard and then life resumed back to normal for everyone else. I could have used a few more weeks to process, heal and re-enter as a mom to five kids. To read more of my story, check it out here.
I felt numb, but with a new healthy baby, I should have been ecstatic. The darkness descended upon me and sucked the life right out of me. Insomnia and extreme anxiety became unwelcome additions to the cocktail of suffering.
I didn’t think I’d make it and I couldn’t understand why God wasn’t helping me. I’d pray the same prayer over and over again: “God, please help me, take this away and fill me with joy.” God, however, didn’t come through the way I expected Him to. He seemed quiet and distant.
How to Trust God in Suffering
How could God allow one of His own children to suffer like this? Doubt curled its fingers around my thoughts and I started to reevaluate God’s role in my life.
Somehow in my Christian walk, I had bought into the thought that once I was following God, my life would be abundant and easy.
During this time, I had prioritized Him into each day and I felt I was spending sufficient time with Him. And then this happened…I couldn’t begin to understand it.
Here’s the thing, God promises that life will be hard. He actually says to expect it. Here are some tips for the unbearable times.
When I look in the Bible, especially at Paul’s struggles, I can’t grasp the idea of rejoicing in struggles. I hated every minute of it when I was in the throes of PPD. No way, no how would I be able to thank God for those moments.
Or could I?
You know what? The same issue had surfaced after baby number three and I’d waited months before seeking help. So right away, this time, after baby five, I knew something was off. I wouldn’t have recognized the feelings if I hadn’t experienced the suffering in the past.
Job 36:15 (NLT) But by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer. For he gets their attention through adversity.
God will use these hard times to develop us and make us more like Him. He is using these moments for our good. Click here for tips on staying close to Him during hard times.
What Does God Develop through Trials?
- Perseverance – a more common word would be patience. I don’t know about you, but I could definitely need more of this. In my own struggle with PPD, the second time around, with new patience I knew it would end.
- Character – I become reliable even in the midst of the hard. I know Who is standing behind me. No one can destroy me and I can stand firm in Him with each future storm.
- Hope – These moments are changing me. If I look back, I can see new growth: more patience, character, and wisdom.
- Confidence/Boldness – My trials make me more vocal to others and gives me the ability to comfort others because I’ve been there.
Expecting Change When We Suffer
It’s important to realize, change doesn’t happen automatically. Periods of suffering can cause us to be bitter…or better. We can get mad and resentful at God, or we can accept (but don’t have to like) the trial as a tool to teach us.
When Paul says to rejoice in our suffering, it’s not because we like pain or have to feel like martyrs. Rather, we can rejoice because we know it’s a process to make us better.
I know this is so hard to grasp and believe when you are just making it minute by minute. Let me reassure you God will give you strength for the next minute and the one after that. Believe in what He says, He won’t leave you nor forget about you.
In the hardest days, He is there the strongest and the closest to you. Lean on Him and let Him comfort your weary heart. You will survive this and God will use you to minister to others who are struggling just as you have.
As for my fear of storms, I’ve changed my perspective. Creation needs the rain from storms and I’ve started to enjoy the display of God in these storms. The storms will eventually end and during the intensity, He holds me in the palm of His hand.
About the Author
Julie Loos is the mom of 5 kids and has been happily married to Greg for 17 years. She loves to read, eat chocolate, drink iced tea and spend time writing in the midst of messes. You can find her blog at unmaskingthemess.com and socially on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.