In my job as a psychologist at the VA, I have the privilege of hearing veterans’ stories and walking with them through difficult times. Often, by the time a veteran enters therapy, he or she may feel devoid of hope because of what he/she has gone through, moral injuries, the severity of symptoms, loss, difficult life events and/or relationship issues. I am confident and can reassure them that I am able to maintain hope for them even when they have none because I trust God and the healing process. I know their suffering will not be wasted but rather can provide growth and meaning.
With my daily experience of providing hope for others, one might think this would mean that when hard things happened in my own life that I could see beyond my own suffering, remembering that God is in control. Sometimes I can hold on to hope, but because hardship and suffering seem to come in bundles, at times I have difficulty maintaining the hope I so easily hold for others. Currently, my personal bundle of suffering includes not only the pandemic, political and covid fatigue, and the racial unrest in the world, but our businesses that have been hit hard by Covid restrictions and employees leaving, as well as personal difficulties for me, my kids, and grandkids.
With so much going on, I do not always know what to pray and so I recite the Lord’s prayer. When I feel fearful or lack hope, I rely on friends to offer the hope which has evaded me. I also need the reassurance that I have not been forsaken. Scripture offers confirmation that I am not alone, and God is in control.
Today I am thankful for friends with steadfast faith who offer hope when I am afraid. “If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” Ecclesiastes 4:10
Today I am thankful that I can maintain hope in Jesus for others even when I need someone to hold on to hope for me. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Today I am thankful for God’s word that offers comfort and reassurance that I am not alone or forsaken, even when I feel like it. “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
Today I am thankful for the Lord’s Prayer, which provides the words I need when I have none and that covers everything. “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen” Matthew 6:9
Today I am thankful for the knowledge that even when I feel shaken God is right by my side and I am not alone. “I saw God before me for all time. Nothing can shake me; He’s right by my side. I’m glad from the inside out, ecstatic; I’ve pitched my tent in the land of hope. I know you’ll never dump me in Hades; I’ll never even smell the stench of death. You’ve got my feet on the life-path, with your face shining sun-joy all around.” Acts 2:26-28 The Message.
Thank you, Jesus, that no one’s bundle of suffering is wasted. You offer hope, healing, and the truth that you are with us in the midst of it all.