finding hope

Finding Hope in My Dark Times

My work day ended at the United States Senate at the normal time that Friday evening. Normally, I would walk slowly to the train, taking in all of the beauty of Washington, D.C. in early spring but not on this evening. I needed to travel to my hometown of Philadelphia for my grandmother’s funeral. My father and I had spoken briefly by phone the Sunday before about his mom’s passing and I anticipated being able to comfort him in person.

The three-hour drive was filled with heavy rain making the night feel darker. When I finally arrived, I noticed that my parents driveway was filled with the cars of family members. I was tired but eager to join everyone. As I walked through the door, there was a noticeable silence. My mom who had clearly been crying approached me and told me that my father had died several hours before I arrived. At that moment, a great pain in me was born. It’s the type of pain that never disappears, causes time to stop, and makes all of the concerns from the day before seem insignificant. When circumstances get dark or difficult sometimes the only thing to keep you going is hope. [Tweet This] However, finding hope can be hard because deep pain is so disorienting. It’s tough to see anything but the darkness. The following is what has given me hope in the midst of my deepest pain.

The Sun Will Rise

Within a couple of years after my dad’s death, the movie Cast Away came out. That movie more than any other identified how I felt: lost and isolated, hopelessly separated from a loved one. At the climax of the movie, Tom Hanks’ character, Chuck, describes to a friend the hopelessness of being stuck on a desert island. While all logic told him that he would never get off the island, he realized that he needed to stay alive and keep breathing. Then his lack of hope was proven wrong when the tide came in and brought him the material he was able to use as a sail to get home. When he returns home, he finds out that the woman he loves is now married and he has lost her again. In the midst of his terrible sadness, he realizes quickly what he needs to do. “I have to keep breathing because tomorrow the sun will rise and who knows what the tide will bring.”

The Tide

Sometimes it is difficult to understand pain and suffering. Much of it seems senseless causing us to look for someone to blame. When we can’t find a person, we turn our prosecution on God. I did that for a while until I realized that all it gave life was a bitter taste. There are many that disagree with my personal beliefs and I say the following with respect for all opposing views. I believe in God and that He is good. When I came to that conclusion, hope was born and healing began. It opened my eyes to how I viewed pain and loss. In my observation and experience, I have found God to be a creative restorer of life, building empathy out of pain and connection out of isolation. He is my rising sun and hopeful tide. What’s yours?

Sound Off

Where do you find hope in dark times?

BJ Foster

BJ Foster is the Director of Content Creation for All Pro Dad and a married father of two.

  • Tom

    While there are other spiritual truths to comfort and encourage us in times of sorrow and pain, the scriptures share that the hope of Christ’s return is THE anchor to focus on to endure through all of life’s sorrows….the promise of his return to gather us all together (Thessalonians) is the basis to have comfort and even JOY in the midst of darkness. When one looks at the occurrences of “joy” in the old and new testament, one sees that it is a tremendous key to dealing with negatives from persecution to death. “”For the joy that was set before him, he (Jesus Christ) endured the cross…” The accomplishments of Christ enabled us to experience joy to a higher level. Philippians has JOY sprinkled throughout, and it was one of the great deep realities Paul lived as well as those of the first century church through the highs and lows of life.

  • CJ

    This talks directly to my life right now as my wife of 21 years recently confessed no longer being in love with me the past couple years and then finding out she was having an emotional affair with someone in our church. I am crushed and confused after giving her all the love I have for 21 years through the good and bad times only to have her make the choice to not fight for our marriage and harden her heart to me. While she has said she is recommitting herself to Christ and rebuilding our marriage — and I am totally pressing into Christ myself more than ever — it is definitely the most painful, dark time I have experienced in my life. Some days I wake up and wonder if fighting for my marriage is even worth the pain, even with three wonderful children in our home. I still find my wife amazing and I love her dearly, but to not have her love in return is killing me.

    • JCV

      I recommend both of you reading The 5 Love Languages. And, find a Christian based marriage counselor.
      I went through a VERY similar situation. I decided to work on and fought hard to re-connect. I read Mars and Venus, The 5 Love Languages, watched Fireproof and read The Love Dare, etc. All good for both of you to read. You should do it regardless. One thing folks don’t realize is the feelings of connecting with a new person only last 18-24 months… then you have to really work on ANY relationship to keep it strong. “Why did we get together in the first place?” “what attracted us?” ” How have our lives changed and my needs changed?” The 5 Love Languages speaks to this directly. Once I learned what I needed to change and what she wanted, it made it so much easier. But, she has to be willing an participate. That is indeed the most frustrating part of the path. A solid Christian counselor should be able to get both of you to commit to a set time to try. The Love Dare also addresses ways to re-connect during this time. Put all you have into this if it is what you want. Too many marriages fall apart because we do not have a guide book or instruction manual. These books and counselors can help. Ask a trusted clergy member for a referral.

      • CJ

        Thank you. We had been going to Christian counseling as a couple for nearly a year, but I could sense something was amiss and told the counselor that my wife needed sessions by herself since we were spinning our wheels together. We were just about to do the Love Languages before everything spilled out a few weeks ago. Now my wife will be doing some intense twice-a-week counseling for a while before we get back into marriage counseling. She said she is willing to work it out and my heart really wants to work it out, but I am in so much pain and do not trust her any more that it will be a long, healing process, to say the least.

        I appreciate all the help in dealing with this. I want our marriage to be so much better and stronger than before and based on Christ for both my wife and I individually and together as a couple. I know nothing in life is 100 percent guaranteed in this fallen world and my wife’s heart could stray again, and that is what I am really struggling with if I should even take a chance of putting my heart out there again to experience this pain or worse in 5, 10, 15 or 20 years down the line if life’s trials and circumstances lead her to the same place she is in now. I just couldn’t take that hurt again and almost feel, at times, I would be better off just ending everything now.

        Everything is so fresh. The pain, anger, grief and everything is just right on the surface and I still love my wife so much and want to forgive and move on, but am just really struggling if she really will make that commitment to our marital covenant to honor, cherish, desire and love me for worse, for poorer and in sickness or if her heart will once again lose it’s desire to be married to me. So much going on inside it’s hard to breathe and get things straight in my head.

        • BJ_Foster

          How are things going CJ? I’d love to get an update. Sorry the past couple of months have been so painful for you. This is just my opinion, but while 1 Corinthians 13 is read at weddings I think it is really written for moments like this. Take time to pray and heal, but don’t give up or lose hope. Then follow God’s example and love recklessly (Romans 5:8). I hope you find some of this at least the slightest bit encouraging. Prayed for your marriage this morning.

          • CJ

            Thank you so much BJ. My wife is preparing for a week-long intensive Christian counseling session on the other side of the country to help repair issues in her heart. Our marriage is still going no where and she recently admitted that she regrets marrying me. I have been seeing a counselor and trying to work on the issues that I have caused that have come up between my wife and I, but I still have very little hope left that whatever I do will be enough to save my marriage.

            I love my wife so much but she has absolutely no hope for us and no love or desire for me. I know God is big and can work miracles, but I am just not sure that this relationship is one that can be redeemed. I read and hear about all these other success stories in how last-minute changes of heart led to reconciliation. We have so many friends who are praying for us, encouraging us and rooting for us, but my wife just has no desire for US!

            Just discouraged and know that, no matter what happens, I need to set my eyes on Christ, whether or not my marriage survives. God will provide in both healing in my heart (to the extent that it can be if we get a divorce) and my future journey.

            I continue to pray every minute of every day that my marriage can be saved, I can change through Christ and that this will be a testimony of faith for marriage to everyone around us. Thank you so much for your prayers!

          • BJ_Foster

            I’m sorry to hear her latest admission. I prayed for your marriage and you this morning and that you will be one of those success stories. Hold onto hope, continue to be faithful and work on your own issues. Remember that God is good, particularly at changing hearts. How did her intensive counseling session go?

          • wade S

            I too am going thru a similar situation. I will have been married 7 years in December and have been with her for over 8.5 years.
            We are in a desperate place. 2 months ago she left because of how disconnected we had become… mostly because she’s on her phone so much and Facebook (ugh Facebook) and finding her value there (how many likes did I get on this photo?). She was gone for 2 weeks and came back because she hated couch hopping and started to feel like we were at a place if we both were willing we could go to counseling and work our tails off and do hard work to work it out. I was in counseling immediately when she left. She went to 1 counseling session together, off-loaded all her stuff/blames on me and that was the last counseling session we had together. She left a week later, saying she wants a divorce. “Time to close the book on this one”. She flipped the switch off and has allowed no negotiation or opportunity to seek help or counseling or us being back together. She’s done. She says that “God wants me out of this marriage. God will never bless me in this marriage. God will never bless our marriage”. Its devastating hearing that anyone would say God wouldn’t want a marriage to be supported or redeemed.
            I’ve been blamed for it all…and I’ve taken a lot of the responsibility, yet I know there’s always 2 stories. I have been surrounded and prayed for by many men of faith/believers and there are so many that pray for her and pray for our marriage. She’s refusing anyone in. Avoiding and denying. Standing by God wants her out.
            I believe in miracles and I believe in Hope Faith Love…greatest of these is Love. There are many distractions in her life now, Facebook, running and runner friends…some inappropriate, and I believe that is the devils work. I believe that the devil is at play, enticing, lying, thieving and deceiving. I continue to pray for her.

            Will you?!!!

          • Rob W

            Wade. I’ll pray for you and your wife! its tough to hear about marriages ending all the while the world saying its all about being happy and fulfilling yourself. I can assure you the God does not author divorce but that may be of little comfort to you right now. Just know there will be one more praying for you.

  • michael

    I have been married to my wife for ten years and two months ago she informed me that she didn’t want to be married anymore. I made some mistakes in our marriage and I have asked for forgiveness. She states that no one can heel her hurt but God. True!!! It’s so hard to not to give up when the other person is not showing you love back. It is my quest to just shower her with the love that God requires of me as a husband and believe and have faith that everything will be ok.

    • CB

      Hi Michael, I am praying for you and your wife. I pray that God will restore your marriage. Have faith and most importantly have hope.

    • Layla

      Michael – I would just continue to conduct yourself as a Godly husband, and let God work on her. Let her know you intend to fight for her! ( She still has free will, but changing hearts is His specialty! I’ve heard many times to do what you can, and let God do the rest. I will pray for you two as well.

  • George L

    HEY BJ !!!! Thanks for this. You really encouraged me. Of course, I knew your story but not all of the details. I really needed to hear this! Keep up the good work buddy! Hey everybody, I know BJ & he is the real deal!

    • BJ_Foster

      Thanks George!

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