Hope When You Can’t Hope Anymore: Navigating Unthinkable Pain to Renewed Faith

When you feel yourself begin to slip and slide, when you doubt and then wonder how you could possibly doubt, don’t despair! God hasn’t changed. He brings hope.

Rest in God alone, my soul,
for my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I will not be shaken.

Psalm 62:5–6 CSB

Until recently, I had never struggled with hope. Though the years had taught me to be more of a realist than a pure optimist, and though I’d walked through many truly painful seasons and circumstances, my trust in God never wavered. And because I trusted God, I remained hopeful for the future.

But two years ago, my good friend’s daughter was hurt. She was hurt in a way that no child should ever experience, no mother should ever imagine. She was hurt in a way that’s not my story to tell. But what became part of my own story was the way my faith was shaken as I walked through this darkness with my friend.

To my friend, I stayed strong in faith that God was with her and her little girl, certain that justice would prevail, and hopeful that her daughter would survive without scars. In my heart, though, I became a crumbling, raging, hopeless mess. I sobbed and screamed, asking God how He could allow such a thing to happen, begging Him to explain where He was and why He didn’t intervene.

A Loss of Hope

As much as that incident and my subsequent deep sadness messed with my heart and mind, what really threw me for a loop was the fear that my faith had been unfounded all these years. What shook me most was the fact that I was shaken. After all, while I might struggle with a whole lot of things, hope had never been one of them! Even when I had to work overtime to choose joy or be patient, I’d always had my general hopefulness to fall back on. Now, though, I wasn’t sure how to hope.

I’d like to tell you that I dove into Scripture and prayer the moment I realized the depth of my doubt and despair, that I went straight to the Lord with my hurt and my missing hope. But I didn’t. Instead, I sank deeper into confusion and chaos as everything I’d previously pinned my hope and trust on seemed to slip away each time I thought about my friend’s grief. I turned my questioning eyes on myself, wondering how strong my faith had been in the first place if it could be so shaken by someone else’s pain.

I finally broke down and told another friend about my struggle. Understanding how hopeless I was feeling, she placed her hands on my shoulders and prayed that God would protect and heal my friend and her daughter—­and that He would comfort and heal me as well. I didn’t have to tell her I was broken; she knew. And when I was unable to ask God for help, she asked for me.

My friend’s simple prayer became my breakthrough. Her hope helped me find my own hope again. It gave me the gentle push I needed to ask God to remind me of the truths that never change—­that He is good, that He loves us, that He is with us and will never leave us. I asked God to rebuild my foundation and to help me remember that my faith is in Him, not in my faith or myself.

Our Firm Foundation

And of course, God did. Little by little, the ground underneath me felt less shaky, and I could stand with confidence again, trusting the firm foundation only the Lord can give. The promises of other people, a false sense of safety or security based on humanity’s goodness, and even my own faith are shifting sands that won’t hold up to the storms of this world. But Jesus, our Rock and our unshakable foundation, He will always be there—­through the storms and when the winds finally subside.

When you feel yourself begin to slip and slide, when you doubt and then wonder how you could possibly doubt, don’t despair! God hasn’t changed. He hasn’t left you behind—­and He won’t. No matter how shaky you feel, God’s still here and He’s still holding steady. Ask Him to help you believe. Ask God to give you hope—­in Him, in His promises and plans, in the story He is writing for you and for your loved ones. And even when the storm rages, God will give you hope to hold on to and to share.

God, I feel shaky sometimes, unsure of myself and of my hope in You. Please forgive me when the doubts are louder than Your love for me and for those I love. Renew my faith, rebuild my foundation, and give me hope to hold on to and to share with others. Amen.

In His Word

My salvation and glory depend on God, my strong rock.
My refuge is in God.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts before him.
God is our refuge. Selah
Psalm 62:7-8

In Your Life

What have you built your foundation on? In reflection, consider the core beliefs and values that form the basis of your life. Where in your life do you need more hope? Identify the areas that seem to hold doubt, and ask Jesus to help you find Scripture to write out that helps you have renewed hope.

We Recommend

We love the devotional Empowered: More of Him for All of You by (in)courage, Mary Carver, Grace P. Cho, and Anna E. Rendell for how it inspires us to live each day in the truth of God’s Word and reject the lies that we are not worthy of His love.

Let’s Connect

(in)courage, founded by DaySpring, is an online community of women who seek Jesus together. Each weekday one of our writers shares what’s going on in her everyday life and how God’s right in the middle of it all. They bring their unique experiences–joys and struggles equally–so that you can feel less alone and be empowered by the hope Jesus gives. Learn more at incourage.me.