Sustaining Hope

By Krystal Woods

Seasons come and go. There is value and opportunity in each season. Some seasons I don’t like as much as others, yet the Lord is teaching me to settle in and seek him in each turn of the tide. To dig some deep roots in the crusty, sooty soil of my soul. To press in and down with confidence that the deeper I go, the more his depths sustain. To remain soft and pliable, truly a jar of clay in the Potter’s hand. How is this possible? How do we grow when we’d rather wither up and die? How do we find the light in nights of endless dark? When all seems lost and gone forever, how do we go on?

Hope. A hope that sustains.

Seasons of darkness don’t seem to go by as fast as I would like. They linger and settle and can be so full of despair. I have walked through many seasons in my life that were ink-black dark and these times seemed to last forever. Questions would come to mind: Am I going to make it through this? What’s going to happen? How can this get better? Is it even possible?

And yet, the seasons come and go. Seasons of darkness are no different, but when we are living in them it can be easy to forget. That’s why I want to share with you today how to have hope in the darkest of times. Because there is hope, whether we feel it or not. It is a hope eternal that I want to share with you. It is a hope that will sustain you always.

I spoke on this topic a couple of autumns ago at a MOPS meeting. I didn’t have a clue then that just a very few short months later I would be entering into the darkest season of my life to date. I remember laying on the couch, swallowed by depression, and hearing the Holy Spirit say, “Krystal, you have to teach yourself what you taught those women. You taught the truth and now you have an opportunity to apply that truth to this season of your life.” I remember thinking I should grab my notes from that teaching and go over them, but I didn’t need to look at the notes, I knew them by heart, because I had lived them before. Yet, when the dark seasons hit it is alarming how quickly our navigation can spin and spiral. But, because I had living in me this great hope, I am still here and on the other side of that season now. I have some new points I would add to my Hope in Darkness teaching now after living this past year out. I am going to share them with you.

Everything is hard at first. I say that to my kids all time and really, those are words to live by. Don’t let something being hard keep you from your healing. It was so difficult to go out in public. I suffered from terrible panic attacks and anxiety trying to get groceries, drop my kids off, pump gas, etc. This past season of darkness was brought on by something I had done, so I was under a lot judgement from myself and others. What I would say to you is to press into the hard stuff and let the Lord sustain you. You will learn about him in a way that is only possible through the act of walking through the hard places. I promise he will be there with you, I know it, because he was there with me and his word confirms it.

Find a few safe people. This step must be drenched in wisdom from above because finding safe people, people that are for you and not about judging you or wanting to hear your gossip, can be really tricky. I remember I would hear a yes or no from the Lord about a person and that was how I created a safe space for me to process the season. These couple of ladies would check in on me, speak to me truth founded in Scripture, and would point out lies that I was believing. We are made for community and creating a safe one will greatly aid your walking in all seasons, especially the dark ones.

Catch the lies early and fight hard against them. Taking every thought captive is so crucial in these seasons. Once a lie planted itself, it would take over my mind and I would spiral again. This past September, I knew I was supposed to go to an event but I was terrified to go because I was convinced I would be not welcomed and asked to leave. That was the lie and I let it take it over and almost didn’t go. Those safe people I was telling you about? They were there, held my hands, and I was loved and welcomed and exactly where I was supposed to be. One of the things the Lord wanted to show me that night was that I had to start catching the lies early so that I didn’t lose ground in my healing process. Guys, we have an enemy and it isn’t each other, and he is so bent on keeping us down and out and in the pit. Ground yourself in the truth of God’s word and his extravagant love for you. Use that to fight off things that come straight from hell. His truth will set you free, renew your hope, and keep you in the light and realization of how very much you are loved by your creator.

Lower your expectations. Expectations can destroy hope when they are not met. In tough seasons lower them of yourself and people, in other words: be gentle with yourself and others. High expectations can make a dark season worse and inhibit healing and wellness. Modify your schedule as needed and as much as you can. I would tell people I was in a time of hiddenness, and I hid under the wings of the Almighty and let him heal me. Expectations to not lower during these times are those of the Lord. We know that those who hope in him will not be disappointed (Isaiah 49:23). Let your hope grow because he really does work all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Sit down in those seasons and chose to learn and grow because that is hope in action. James 1:2, from The Message, says it like this, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”

***Some seasons of darkness come about because of something we did. Other times they are unprovoked and are just part of living this life. I consider my daughter Kate’s diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes to be this kind of darkness. No one caused it, it is just a part of living in a fallen world. Her diagnosis is also one that doesn’t go away, so it is a continual fight for hope. I’ll write more on that another time, because many of us will have seasons that actually become a new way of life. The season doesn’t go away because the diagnosis doesn’t go away, or a loved one died and now life is different, permanently. Finding hope, may look more like fighting for hope in those places.

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