Hope Out of Despair

"The Lord, your God, is in your midst...; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." Zephaniah 3:17 (NRSV)

Kate Underwood, from Illinois, relates that as a sophomore in college, she found herself floundering, depressed, and unsure of herself. No major event had triggered it; she just couldn't explain why she felt so alone. While she still believed in God, she began to doubt that her life was worth anything to God. She struggled just to get out of bed every morning and go through the motions of each day.

Though that year was painful, Kate did learn one crucial lesson: God is never nearer to us than when we are suffering. And that suffering was not a punishment from God; rather, it forced Kate to stop relying on her own strength and abilities as the source for her worth. She learned to lean on God and the powerful truths of the Bible, not on her own unpredictable emotions. God loved her. God had good plans for her life. God would not hold her sins against her. Those truths anchored her soul amid the storm-tossed waves.

As Kate navigated the sadness and sorrow of depression, her prayer life grew and deepened. Her heart clung to the truths in the Bible. Gradually, through the help of many who reached out to her, prayed with her, encouraged her, and counseled her, she found her way out of despair. Then she realized that she had not been abandoned; instead God had filled her with hope.

May we learn from Kate that when life is tough, when we feel lost and depressed, when we are unsure of what we should do, let us turn to God through prayers, reading the Bible, and talking with friends; and to center our hope in God.

Prayer: Dear God, when we're tempted to despair, teach us to put our hope in You. Amen.

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