Holding On To Hope
A Pathway Through Suffering to the Heart of God
"The world tells us to run from suffering, to avoid it at all costs, to cry out to heaven to take it away. Few of us would choose to suffer. Yet when we know that God has allowed suffering into our lives for a purpose, instead of running from it, we can embrace it, and look around for God in it."
Nancy Guthrie speaks to those who are hurting only as one who has hurt deeply herself has the credibility to do. Having lost a daughter and a son to a metabolic disorder, in Holding On to Hope, Nancy provides companionship to those walking through difficulty while also providing wisdom for the journey. With a mixture of gentle encouragement and hard-hitting truth, she invites readers to worship and thank God in the midst of their suffering, to submit to God's plan and purpose, and to trust Him in their darkest days.
By following the footsteps of history's most significant sufferer - Job-Holding On to Hope examines how a person can experience significant pain and loss, struggle and question God and emerge from the experience knowing God in a more intimate and meaningful way.
Holding On to Hope is now in seven languages including German, a UK edition, Korean, Chinese, Norwegian, and Danish.
Q&A with Nancy Guthrie
Author of Holding On to Hope: A Pathway Through Suffering to
the Heart of God
Q. About four years ago you went to the hospital to deliver what you thought would be a healthy baby girl, but on her second day of life a geneticist told you he thought she had a rare metabolic disorder called Zellweger Syndrome. What is that?
A. Children with Zellweger Syndrome are missing an essential subcelluar particle called “peroxisomes,” which rid their cells of toxins. The doctor explained that because Hope was missing peroxisomes, the toxins would build up and her systems would shut down. He explained that children with this syndrome usually live less than six months. No treatment. No cure. No survivors.
Q. What was Hope’s life like?
A. Her life was limited and brief. She was very lethargic and couldn’t hold her head up. She couldn’t suck, so we fed her with a tube we threaded down her throat and eventually a tube directly into her stomach. Her brain was severely damaged, and she couldn’t see or hear or respond. The reality was, that from the day she was born, she was declining. When she was about three months old, she began having seizures, which grew more and more significant until her death when she was a little over six months old.
Q. What causes Zellweger Syndrome?
A. To have a child with the syndrome requires both parents to be carriers of the recessive gene trait for the syndrome. And so whenever two carriers have a child, there is a 25% chance that the child will be born with Zellweger. We didn’t know we were facing those odds when we had our son Matt, who is 12, or when we had Hope. But after Hope was born, we decided that while we might be willing to risk another pregnancy if it were just David and me, we did not want to risk putting our son and our parents through such a sorrowful experience again. So David had a vasectomy.
Q. But then you got a big surprise, didn’t you?
A. Yes. We were shocked to discover about two years later that I was pregnant. We were excited as we faced the possibility of having another healthy child to raise and enjoy, and afraid as we considered the possibility of loving and losing another child. At about 3 months I was able to go through pre-natal testing, and we discovered that this child would also be born with the fatal syndrome. Gabriel Johnson Guthrie was born July 16, 2001, and brought us sixth months of joy as we endeavored to savor every day we had with him. His condition was very similar to Hope’s, and he was with us one day short of six months.
Q. So now you’ve buried two children, a nightmare that no parent wants to even imagine experiencing. How have you gotten through these past four years?
A. About eight years ago I made a commitment to study God’s Word through Bible Study Fellowship, a weekly intensive Bible study class, and it built in me a foundation of understanding about who God is and how he works. In fact, we were studying the story of Job about two weeks before Hope was born, and I remember marveling at how Job responded to tragedy in his life. I wondered if I would respond that way if tragedy came in my life. After Hope was born, I went back to Job to look more closely at his example. I wanted to find out how this man went from profound pain to profound blessing—how the last verse of his story could describe him saying, “He died, having lived a long, good life.”
Q. What did you learn from Job that helped you?
A. The first verse of Job’s story tells us that he was a godly man—that he was blameless. And as God was looking for one man who would be faithful to him no matter what, he chose Job. Then, a series of messengers came to Job telling him that all of his cattle and property had been destroyed, and then that the building his children were having a dinner party in had collapsed and they were all dead. And the first thing Job did was tear his robe in grief. The first lesson I learned from Job was that tears do not reflect a lack of faith.
But grief is not all that is in his first response—the verse continues, “Then he shaved his head and fell down to the ground before God.” Amazingly, Job worshipped God. It can be very difficult to truly worship when you’re hurting deeply. But when we worship, we get our eyes off of ourselves and our problems. We focus them on God, and it puts our difficulties into proper perspective.
Q. It seems that oftentimes when something bad happens, people have a couple of responses – they get angry with God, and then they ask “Why?”
A. That is what is so amazing about Job. The scripture tells us that he “did not sin by cursing or blaming God.” Job feared God, and so even though he questioned God in a quest to understand why he was suffering, he did so without pointing a self-righteous finger toward God. He questioned God boldly, but with firm confidence that God would redeem the pain in his life.
Q. But at many points, Job says he just wants to die, doesn’t he?
A. Yes, especially after he developed all of the itchy, oozing sores all over his body. He was in a deep place of despair, desperate to hear God speak. And then, in a voice from out of a whirlwind, God spoke. What I would expect is that God would answer all of the questions from Job and Job’s pious friends and set the record straight on all of the fine points. But that isn’t what God did. He revealed Himself. And in the midst of his awesome presence, Job’s questions simply disappeared.
It is at this point in Job’s story that you write in your book, Holding On to Hope, that Job discovered what made his suffering “worth it”—the same thing that has made your suffering, in a sense, “worth it.”
Job says, “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.” He’s saying, “I used to just know about you, but now I really know you because I’ve experienced you for myself.” Job discovered a more intimate relationship with God through his suffering than he could ever have known in a continued life of comfort and ease. And that is God’s purpose in allowing suffering into my life and your life. His purpose is not to punish us or hurt us, but to draw us to Himself.
Q. Why did you write Holding On to Hope, and who is it for?
A. I wrote the book as a gentle invitation to those who are hurting. I invite them to join me in following in Job’s footsteps so that he can show us how to suffer greatly, question boldly and come to a new place of intimacy with an understanding of God. So many times, when people we know are hurting, we want to do something for them. I hope people will give them a copy of my book and that the book will help them work through their questions and pain on a deep level. I hope this book will enable readers to emerge from their suffering with a deeper, richer relationship with God.
Q. What is the most important message you want this book to give to people who are hurting?
A. Instead of urging them to pray away their suffering, I want to encourage them to look for God in the midst of it. If God has allowed suffering into your life, it is for a significant purpose. So rather than just focusing on getting rid of it, seek to discover God’s purpose in your pain, to submit to his plan and his purpose, to please him in how you respond to adversity. You have an incredible opportunity to glorify God just by your simple trust in him during these dark days. He will bring you from the darkness into the light, so look for him in the darkness.
In a world where so much attention has been focused on a Christian message of health, wealth, and prosperity, Holding On to Hope is like a beacon of Light, drawing the reader to God and God alone.
ANNE GRAHAM LOTZ,
Best-selling author and speaker,
from the foreword to Holding On to Hope
Holding On to Hope reads easy, runs deep, and enriches the heart! If you are stymied about God's goodness amidst life's heartaches, then this book's for you.
JONI EARECKSON TADA,
Joni and Friends
Few people have lived-and continue to live-as deep a firsthand experience of pain and loss as Nancy Guthrie. For that reason alone her Christian reading of the story of Job should lay special claim on readers themselves undergoing suffering. But there are other inducements: the clarity, grit, and honesty with which Nancy explains how she has maintained hope a deepened faith where most would find only heartbreak.
DAVID VAN BIEMA,
Nancy Guthrie's book offers hurting people companionship as well as encouragement to pursue God in the midst of their suffering. Pastors can recommend it with confidence that it will make a difference.
DR. ED YOUNG,
Second Baptist Church, Houston
It's rare to find a book that combines insight, sensitivity, practicality and hope . . . this one does.
H. NORMAN WRIGHT,
author and counselor
Only God could orchestrate such events. And only God could give the Guthrie family the faith and courage to live them. May He use this story to strengthen us all.
Nancy Guthrie's faith shines through some of the darkest clouds of human pain. This book and her story will touch your emotions and inspire your mind in an unforgettable way. Seldom will you read anything with such candor and insight, probing one of life's toughest questions: "How can grief be a friend along life's journey?"
Cries of the Heart
You hold in your hand a treasure that was mined in a dark and frightening place. With transparent honesty, Nancy unwraps the joys and sorrows of her life. This is a book about life and our God, who holds us in all the moments of this life.
with WOMEN OF FAITH
If you want someone to know they are not alone in their pain and help them understand where God is in the midst of their pain, Holding on to Hope is the best resource available. While the world questions why God allows loss and pain, Nancy shows us how to face it. Read this book, recommend this book and hope that just a portion of her courage and faith rub off on you.
New Life Ministries
Publishers Weekly, May 27, 2002
In late 1998, doctors diagnosed Guthrie’s newborn daughter, Hope, with Zellweger syndrome, a rare congenital disorder, and gave Hope less than six months to live. Guthrie, a media relations specialist who has a 10-year-old son without the disease, tells of Hope’s brief life with raw emotion, but never resorts to coying sentimentality. After Hope’s death, Guthrie’s husband had a vasectomy to prevent future pregnancies. Thus they were shocked to learn, a year and ha half later, that Nancy was pregnant again. Although there was only a 25% chance that the baby would carry the disease, they soon discovered that this child, a son, would also be a Zellweger baby. Gabriel lived just one day shy of six months, dying in January of this year. In trying to extract meaning behind such suffering, Guthrie turns to the Book of Job, teasing out themes of restoration and redemption amidst Job’s many trials. She is honest about her own terrible sorrow; after outlining God’s possible purpose for the fleeting lives of these two children, Guthrie admits, "That is what I believe. It is not necessarily how I feel." She says that her decision to trust in God is a daily choice, not a onetime sacrifice, and that some days such submission is easier to embody than others. The book closes with a time-honored evangelical altar call. And here, it works. Readers who have immersed themselves in Guthrie’s honest story of redemptive suffering will examine their own faith in a new light.
Christianity Today, December 9, 2002
How to Survive Grief
An honest reflection on the death of an infant daughter.
Reviewed by Wendy Murray Zoba
I grow weary of Christian "How To" books, as if doing something were the way to authenticate the Christian life. I stand corrected, though, after reading Nancy Guthrie's poignantly written, non-mawkish Holding on to Hope. It is written with such pathos and honesty that one believes what the author says, for she has won her authority dearly.
Nancy, her husband, David, and their son, Matt, welcomed a newborn daughter to their family in November 1998. They named her Hope, with all the ebullience it implies. Hope died six months later of a rare metabolic disorder called Zellweger syndrome (see "Praying for Hope," CT , July 10, 2000).
The Guthries poured themselves into her fragile, precious life knowing she would die and, in a way, waiting for her to die. This book wrestles with what you do with that, as a human in this life. The author kindly and courageously makes it clear: There are no easy answers. Guthrie recounts how, shortly after Hope's death, she was purchasing mascara: "Will this mascara run down my face when I cry?" I asked. The girl behind the counter assured me it wouldn't and asked with a laugh in her voice, "Are you going to be crying?" "Yes," I answered. "I am."
This is indeed a How To book: How to be honest before people and before God. How to admit, as David Guthrie does, that "we expected our faith to make this hurt less, but it doesn't." How to face grief "head on," as she puts it, and "trudge through it, feel its full weight, and do my best to confront my feelings of loss and hopelessness with the truth of God's Word." So the How To isn't so much in the doing , but in the becoming : How to become truly human through suffering, and how to become like Jesus.
Into the narrative of her personal loss, Guthrie weaves the story of Job, the paragon of human suffering, which broadens the vision of Guthrie's book and lends insight to it. But the power of this short book is found in Guthrie's story itself, and in her spare but poetic way of telling it. "[People] want to fix me. But I lost someone I loved dearly, and I'm sad."
The book's authority heightens when Guthrie discloses halfway through that, despite surgery to prevent it, she is pregnant again. And again, this child carries Zellweger. They named him Gabriel. And he, like his sister, died at six months. The Guthries cling to the message the angel of the same name announces: Jesus. This affecting book promises those who grieve the same thing to cling to.
Wendy Murray Zoba is a senior writer for Christianity Today.
From the chapter on TEARS
How to comfort a grieving friend
Our culture wants to put the Band-Aid of heaven on the hurt of losing someone we love to death. Sometimes it seems like they think because we know the one we love is in heaven, we shouldn't be sad. But they don't understand how far away heaven feels, and how long the future seems as we see before us the years we have to spend on this earth before we see the one we love again.
The day after we buried Hope, my husband said to me, "You know, I think we expected our faith would make this hurt less, but it doesn't. Our faith gave us an incredible amount of strength and encouragement while we had her, and we are comforted by the knowledge that Hope is in heaven. Our faith keeps us from being swallowed by despair. But I don't think it makes our loss hurt any less."
It is only natural that people around me often ask searchingly, "how are you?" And for much of the first year after her death, my answer was "I'm deeply and profoundly sad." I've been blessed with many people who have been willing to share my sorrow. They've been willing to just be sad with me. But some people seem to want to rush me through my sadness. They want to fix me. But I lost someone I loved dearly, and I'm sad.
Ours is not a culture that is comfortable with sadness. It's awkward. It is unsettling. It ebbs and flows and takes it own shape. It beckons to be shared. It comes out in tears, and we don't quite know what to do with those.
So many people are afraid to bring it up. They don't want to upset me. But my tears are the only way I have to release the deep sorrow I feel. I tell people: "Don't worry about crying in front of me or be afraid that you will make me cry! Your tears tell me you care, and my tears tell you that you've touched me in a place that is meaningful to me—and I will never forget your willingness to share my grief."
In fact, it is those who shed their tears with me that show me we are not alone. It often feels like we are carrying this enormous load of sorrow, and when others shed their tears with me, it is like they are taking a bucket full of sadness and carrying it for me. It is, perhaps, the most meaningful thing anyone can do for me.
From the chapter on WORSHIP
How to worship in the midst of pain
It is one thing to go to church; it is another thing to worship. To be honest, sometimes I just don't feel like it. Sometimes I just don't feel like praising and adoring God for who he is and what he has done, which is the essence of worship. To offer up thanksgiving and praise him sometimes feels dishonest or insincere.
Often, worship is a matter of obedience. At least it is for me. But, as in many other areas, when I make the choice to be obedient, God changes my feelings, and I come to the place of passionate worship.
You see, we worship because he is worthy, not because we necessarily "feel" like it. In the midst of a crisis, if we only do what we feel like doing, we could remain stuck in a cycle of self-pity. But when we worship, we get our eyes off of ourselves and our sorrow or problems and focus them on God, and it puts our difficulties into proper perspective.
Most of us think of worship as a Sunday morning activity in which we gather in a church, sing some songs, and listen to a preacher. Genuine worship is when what flows out of our lips and out of our lives are words and works that glorify God and honor him for who he is and what he has done. We worship when we reflect his glory—his character and likeness— to others in the way we live. And doesn't it seem that everyone around us is watching closely when tragedy strikes in our lives?
Surely, our worship in the midst of pain and sorrow is particularly precious to God — because it costs us so much. Worship is not made easier, but it becomes all-the-more meaningful when offered from a heart that is hurting.
The truth is, worship during these times can be some of the most meaningful we ever experience. Perhaps we are equipped more fully to worship than ever before because we are acutely aware of our desperate need for God and our own incapacitating weakness. We have our helplessness and inadequacy in proper perspective to God's power and sufficiency.
Do you want to find the heart of God in the darkness of your suffering? In the brokenness of overwhelming grief, would you set aside your feelings of disappointment and confusion—and even anger— and begin to worship God?
From the chapter on GRATITUDE
How to be grateful in the midst of loss
God gives, and God takes away. But, let's be honest. We just want him to give, don't we? And we certainly don't want him to take away the things or the people we love.
David stayed home with Hope on Wednesdays so I could go to Bible study. One morning in January I got in the car after class and called him on my mobile phone. He didn't answer, which I thought was strange. So I tried his mobile. He answered.
"Where are you?" I asked.
"We're all fine," he said.
(Now, you know when someone starts with that, we're not all fine, right?)
"We're at Dr. Ladd's office, but not for Hope," he continued. "Matt fell in PE this morning and broke off his front tooth."
I took a deep breath and just couldn't say anything for a minute. I guess it hit me in the area of my greatest fearthat this won't be our only loss.
That night, David and I talked about it and we realized that we had both had an unspoken agreement with God. It went something like this: "Fine. We will accept losing Hope and all that that brings. But we don't lose Matt. We don't lose each other. No car accidents. No cancer. No financial collapse. This is it!"
But as we voiced our deepest feelings and fears out loud, we realized that we had to let go of those things too. We just have to trust God with everything we have. We have to open ourselves and say, God it is all yours to do with as you will!
We tend to think the money in our bank accounts and the possessions we have are ours—that we've earned them. That we deserve them. But the truth is, everything we have is a gift. Do you think you "deserve" a certain lifestyle, a handsome and loving husband, or beautiful wife and healthy, easy-to-manage children? A high-paying, fulfilling career? What are you holding on to so tightly that you would blame God if he took it away tomorrow?
Job recognized that everything he had was a gift from God, and he had learned how to hold on to those gifts loosely. Evidently Job, long ago, figured out that his extreme wealth and blessing not only came from God, it was still God's, and he was just a steward.
How about you? I know you can barely stand to think about being grateful in the midst of your loss. You probably think I'm crazy to even suggest that you could be grateful as you face the empty chair, the empty bank account, the emptiness.
When you come to the place where you recognize that everything you have and everyone you love is a gift, it becomes possible to enjoy those gifts not with an attitude of greed, but gratitude. You and I, like Job, know that God gives and God takes away. And when he takes away, if we're able to focus on the joy of what was given, if only for a time, we take another step down the pathway toward the heart of God. Appreciating God's gifts, we come to the place where we can simply say, "Thank you."
From the chapter on BLAME
How to handle the anger that pain brings
Death, disease, destruction—these are all the result of living in a world where sin has taken root and corrupted everything. It is this curse of sin that required Jesus to become flesh and die—to overcome the curse of sin, not only in our individual lives, but in all of creation. In fact, because of his sufficient sacrifice, the day is coming when we will be free of this curse.
But for now, we still live in a world that is under a curse. And it's easy to blame God unless we follow Job's example. I think the key to Job's ability to keep from blaming God is in the first line of his story. It says that Job "feared God."
In the seeming unfairness of losing someone we love, fellow believers often encourage us to freely express our anger toward God. And certainly God can handle our honest emotions. But the fear of God holds our tongue when we want to accuse God of wrongdoing, it halts our finger-wagging in defiance, it humbles us in the midst of our self-righteous anger.
If you desire to come out on the other side of your suffering without the baggage of blaming God and all of the bitterness and brokenness that blaming brings, then you must understand and grow in the fear of God. The Bible says that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Do you really want to come to a better understanding of the big picture? The starting place is to develop a healthy fear of God.
From the chapter on SUFFERING
How to embrace suffering instead of running from it
You probably did not invite difficulty into your life. It was thrust upon you. In fact, most of us spend our lives doing everything we can to avoid suffering. In today's modern world, we expect a cure for every illness, a replacement for every loss, a fix for every failure. We are shocked and shaken when hardship comes our way.
We have an unspoken expectation that a good God will bring only what we consider to be good things into our lives. We never expect him to allow and perhaps even bring difficulty into our lives. But he does.
Does that surprise you? Does that bother you?
The truth is, often people who follow God suffer—not less, but more. Have you ever noticed that people who suffer are marked with a beauty, a deepening, a transformation? But it only occurs when they can enter the suffering and look around for God in the midst of it. Otherwise, they are marked with bitterness and emptiness.
Jesus is suggesting we do more than simply endure suffering. He's inviting us to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and instead focus on learning from it. And he not only invites us to embrace suffering, he shows us what that looks like.
Surely if God would require such intense suffering of his own Son whom he loved to accomplish a holy purpose, he has a purpose for your pain and for my pain. And perhaps part of that purpose is to "learn obedience" from what we suffer.
Early on in my journey I said to God, "Okay, if I have to go through this, then give me everything. Teach me everything you want to teach me through this. Don't let this incredible pain be wasted in my life!" I know God has a purpose for allowing this pain into my life and that it is for my ultimate good. So I can actually embrace it. Would you believe I can thank God for this bitter but rich experience? I can. Because I know God is good, that he allows good and bad into our lives, and we can trust him with both.
And I believe God has a purpose for the pain in your life and that it is for your ultimate good even though everything about it looks bad.
From the chapter on ETERNITY
How to grieve with an eternal perspective
Do you find yourself thinking much more about heaven these days, because someone you love is there, because it seems you may be there soon, or because you long to escape the pain of your life on this earth?
Before losing Hope, I never really understood why people found such comfort in knowing their loved one was in heaven. But I do now. When you lose someone you love, heaven becomes much more of a reality, much more than a theological concept or theatrical cliché.
We tend to think this life on earth is all there is, and we certainly live that way much of the time. But God wants to radically alter that perspective. He wants us to live with an eternal perspective, putting life on this earth in its proper place, and living in anticipation of an eternity in his presence.
If we really believe that real life, fullness of joy, and freedom from pain is found in an eternity in God's presence, why do we cling to this earthly life with such vigor?
Do you find yourself yearning for heaven in the midst of your sorrow or difficulty? Perhaps that is part of the purpose in your pain—a new perspective, a proper perspective, about life on this earth and the life after.
I believe that one day I will not only see Hope and our son again, I'll see God face to face! That makes a difference in how I grieve and in how I live today.
From the chapter on SUBMISSION
How to submit to God's plan
In those early weeks after Hope's birth, God seemed to speak to me clearly — though not in an audible voice. I've never heard that. He spoke to me the way he always does: through Scripture.
In my Bible study a couple of weeks after Hope was born, we looked at the story of Hagar who had run away from Abram and Sarah due to Sarah's harsh treatment. She wanted to escape her difficult situation, but God spoke to her in the desert, telling her to "return and submit." The lecturer asked, "What is God calling you to submit to?" And I knew God was calling me to submit to the journey we were facing with Hope, not to fight it or cry out to him to change it, but to submit to his plan and his purposes.
At the same time, we were talking in Sunday school about the biblical account of the angel who came to Mary to tell her that she would give birth to a son. How did this "favored" one respond? "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said." She submitted, even though what God had brought into her life, from her perspective as a 13-year-old Jewish maiden, must have looked like a disaster.
Once again, I sensed a calling to submit to the plan he laid out before us, and to walk through it in a way that brought him glory, in a way that exemplified what it means to trust him in the midst of sorrow and difficulty and disappointment.
For me, submission has meant a quiet, though sorrowful, acceptance of God's plan and God's timing. It has meant giving up the plans I had for my daughter, for my family, for my life, and bringing them all under submission to him.
Now what I wish is that it had been a one-time decision, a one-time sacrifice. But throughout Hope's life, as her condition slowly deteriorated, and in the days of grief that have followed her death, and as we've walked through nine long months of this new pregnancy, the call to submission hasn't stopped, and it hasn't gotten easier. Every day, as I let go of my dreams and my desires, as I see little girls the age Hope would be bringing a smile to the face of their moms and dads, as I plan for another child who will only be with us a short time, I'm once again called upon to submit. Some days I do better than others.
I know that it has been difficult for many people around us to understand why we have not cried out to heaven for healing. Is it because we think that it is too hard for God? Absolutely not. God can do anything.
Shouldn't we cry out to God with boldness and passion and persistence in a prayer that says, "God, would you please accomplish your will? Would you give me a willing heart to embrace your plan and your purpose? Would you mold me into a vessel that you can use to accomplish what you have in mind?" And then, perhaps, we could add a tiny P.S. that says, "and if that includes, healing, we will be grateful."
Isn't real faith revealed more through pursuing God and what He wants than by pursuing what I want?
Because I believe his plans for me are better than what I could plan for myself, rather than run away from the path he has set before me, I want to run toward it. I don't want to try to change God's mind—his thoughts are perfect. I want to think his thoughts. I don't want to change God's timing—his timing is perfect. I want the grace to accept his timing. I don't want to change God's plan—his plan is perfect. I want to embrace his plan and see how he is glorified through it. I want to submit.
From the chapter on INTIMACY
How to discover intimacy in the darkest of days
It is one thing to believe that God is faithful and will supply all your needs—even in the darkest of times. It is another thing to experience it. In the darkest of days, we've experienced a supernatural strength and peace that could only come from God. Perhaps you have, too.
My husband tends to be a pessimist. Not only does he see the glass as half-empty, he's sure what is in it is going to spill all over the place any minute. So David says he has always feared a tragedy in his life.
But he says that now that the tragedy has come, the fear is gone. Now that he has experienced his greatest fear, and experienced God's supreme faithfulness to us through this difficulty, he no longer fears tragedy in our lives. We know him more fully because we've experienced him more fully through our sorrow.
It is when we are hurting the most that we run to God. We recognize that we are powerless and that he is powerful. We pray and we see him more clearly because we're desperately looking for him.
And in our looking for him, we find him to be more loving and faithful than we've ever seen him before. We discover an intimacy that we have never experienced before, perhaps because we're looking for him so intently. That is always his purpose: to use whatever means he sees fit to bring us to a closer relationship with him, to create in us a faith that will give us the strength to keep holding on to hope. Not a flimsy wishing or a hope that everything will be fixed in this life, but genuine biblical hope that one day, what is unseen will be seen, a confidence in an eternal future in which God sets everything right.
God wants to use the difficulties in your life not to punish you or to hurt you, but to draw you to himself.
Will you come?