My tears have been my food day and night,Psalm 42:3,11
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence.
In Christ, we’re made to hope, and our hope in Him strengthens us in our journey of faith. But sometimes suffering—or even just exhaustion from the battles we face in life—causes hope to feel beyond reach.
We’ve all wrestled with this, whether during seasons of physical affiliation, financial crisis, or loss, death, and grief—the times when “tears are our food,” the times when perhaps no one else can perceive or understand the depth of our pain. Yet when we’re suffering or struggling, hope becomes most important.
The battle for hope
To start, it’s helpful to know we’re not alone in this battle— everyone deals with this struggle in their soul at times. My own greatest war for hope came during the many years I waited for the healing of my body and for all the dreams and desires impossible to fulfill during my illness. Others have dealt with far more horrific circumstances, but I can only share my own story.
During this prolonged season of sickness, I held the posture of asking every day that this would be the day for healing and every day choosing fresh hope. In the process, I found sometimes embracing hope could be painful itself, because it required engaging my vision and emotions in a future reality that contrasted vividly with my present difficult one. And the choice to hope forced me to wrestle through feelings of hope deferred or disappointment when the answer continued to delay.
In this season, I received comfort from the Psalms and what they revealed about the battle for hope and the raw, real emotions that occur during this journey. If you’re in this place, just read Psalm 42 and the expression of pain contained within coupled with the continued commandment David gives to his soul to hope in God. Or look at Psalm 25, where David finds himself in the midst of countless troubles—surrounded by enemies, alone and afflicted—but still declaring his hope and trust in God.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction” (Romans 12:12). It’s more than a platitude, it’s a path. Our patience and perseverance—and yes, even rejoicing—during seasons of affliction will fuel our hope and faith.
The choice to hope
And here I found one of the keys: regardless of what we feel, we always have a choice. We always have authority over our own souls and the ability to command them to hope—even when we feel at our weakest. And when we make this choice, we will receive strength from God to persevere in faith.
Sometimes when you’re faced with a situation that requires a concerted effort of hope over a long period of time—whether it’s contending for physical healing, for financial provision, for change in a troubled marriage or for whatever area you’ve had promises that remain unfulfilled—it can be tempting to give up hope rather than experience disappointment. Hope usually involves waiting—for who hopes for what he already has? Maybe you’ve chosen hope again and again, only to feel dashed to the ground every time, bewildered as to why answers delay and prayers seem to go unheard. Scripture addresses this feeling as “hope deferred” and says it makes the heart sick.
Or maybe you’re in a different situation. Maybe you’re not hoping and praying for a change in circumstance, but instead you need to see your pain through the lens of hope. Perhaps someone close and dearly loved has died. Perhaps you’ve endured traumas or abuse with lasting repercussions. Perhaps you’ve encountered irreversible disaster. Regardless, it’s essential to hope in God, to hold confidence in His ability to bring good even out of the worst suffering and loss.
In either case, if you find yourself heartsick and struggling to hope, what then? Though it may sound impossible, even at this point, you still have a choice. Go to God with all your emotions, pour our your heart like water to Him. Run to Him instead of away and receive His comfort and empowerment. Come back to the place of choosing hope, even if that choice looks like a weak whisper for help. Because the alternative will only crush your soul further, leading to discouragement, unbelief, and even despair—and ultimately agreement with the enemy rather than God. If we view our lives as hopeless, we’re defining them as “not susceptible to remedy or cure”—the very opposite of what Scripture declares.
The supernatural grace
The truth is that God always makes a way, and “his power is perfect in our weakness.” When every part of us feels weary or wounded, if we turn to him as the healer of our souls, if we choose hope, He will give us grace and sustain us even amid the pain of disappointment or hope deferred. He’s more than able to plant fresh hope, if we run to him in our pain instead of from him. I love that in Hosea 2:15 it says God makes the valley of trouble (Achor) a door of hope. It’s a vivid image of the transformational power God offers us as our worst, most bleak circumstances become a doorway of living hope. If we partner with Him, if we lean on Him when we have no strength, He WILL do this for us all.
Maybe this seems like a simplistic answer that doesn’t account for your unique circumstances, but the truth of Scripture applies in every situation. And I want to encourage you that to continue to hope—to continue agreeing with God—is always worth it. This choice doesn’t make difficulty magically vanish, but it brings us to a place of inner life and strength in the midst of hardship. And any time we align ourselves with God, it releases power in our souls and spirits, power that we need to sustain us on the journey. Next week, I’ll look at some of the practicals of how to cultivate this needed hope.
Are you struggling for hope right now? Or have you endured a battle in this area and come through with tips of your own to share?