I recently got the opportunity to contribute to my church's blog. I decided to write on suffering and what it means when it is said that God has plans to give us "Hope and a Future."
“This too shall pass.” These four words were drilled into my mind ever since I was young girl. Anytime something bad happened, “This too shall pass.” If I had my heart broken, “This too shall pass.” The first time I saw Justin Bieber on stage…well you get the picture.
In life we all go through periods of suffering—some worse than others. I believe part of what intensifies this suffering is the sense there is no hope, that there is no light at the end of it all. In my life I’ve seen my fair share of dark days, days when there appeared to be no hope. Living with an eating disorder and struggling with self-harm, and then walking the long journey of recovery left me desperate for hope. I needed it. And, once I realized it existed, I clung to it with everything I had.
But I am alive now. I have food in my stomach and life in my eyes. I survived. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. Today I’m here to talk about the part that comes after the “surviving.”
See, through some of my darkest moments, what got me through was Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV):
“‘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.’”
The key word in here is hope; however, we cannot forget the second promise: a future. God has a bigger plan for our suffering than us simply surviving it. Surviving is important, yes, but the future that comes after that is important, too.
I think sometimes we take surviving for granted, especially when it comes to the smaller trials in our lives. We’re so used to God pulling us through that we don’t get excited about it anymore. And after we’ve made it through, we tend to forget where we were before. But there is a gift we get to live out every day if we notice it: we have a future. And not just any future, one that is a direct result of the trials we’ve gone through.
We don’t survive our struggles simply for the sake of surviving; we survive so we can use our experiences to help others, so we can be testimonies of hope.
Through my trials, I’ve been blessed with the amazing opportunity to bring support and encouragement to others who are going through the same struggles I went through. And every day I have the gift of seeing my most difficult moments be used for good. Suddenly my surviving has purpose. My struggles are testimony that no matter how low we get, we still have the amazing gift of hope and a future.
So today no matter what you’re going through (for each day I believe we all face our own battles), I encourage you to remember not only that there is hope at the end of this dark tunnel, but there is a future, too; there is a purpose.
You will not be made to suffer without hope, but more than that, you will not be made to suffer without purpose. Jesus is bigger than that.
“I thank God for my handicaps, for through them, I have found myself, my work and my God.” –Helen Keller
Note: After reading this post, a friend pointed out Jeremiah 29:12-14:
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”