We watched the waters rise around our home. After days of rain, with only more days of rain in the coming forecast, we decided to pack up what we could, and go spend the night at our neighbors’ in their upstairs guest bedroom.
We were maybe 20 feet from our home, but that night was a night of unknowing. The rain poured long and hard, and we were certain that when we went back home the next morning, we’d find inches of rain in our home.
But for whatever reason, our home didn’t flood during Hurricane Harvey; so many people had it so much worse than we did. But even so, the packing up of our home, turning away and leaving, not knowing what state it would be in when we returned. . . . All this unknown started an anxiety in me that would continue to unfurl and grow in the coming year.
A month or two later, we were driving home after lunch on a Sunday afternoon. There was some construction on our normal route home, so we followed the detour instead. It might have been the unclear signs, a new route, and I don’t know what else—but before we knew it, we had been hit by a car going really fast.
Shattered glass, air bags in our faces, several loud hard impacts, my niece crying out in the back seat. What took just a few seconds felt like an eternity, as we were tossed to and fro in the mass of metal around us.
We were okay that day, we walked away with cuts and bruises, but ultimately, what matters is that we walked away safe and alive. But the anxiety that had been sitting in my chest since Hurricane Harvey was awakened again that day. This time it was full-fledged. I allowed my imagination to walk down dark alleys, wondering “what if” this, and “what if” that.
The days and weeks that followed were dark for me. I would cry at a moment’s notice, afraid to think of what could have been, but not quite being able to stop myself.
We had just paid off the car that was totaled that day, and so we received a decent insurance check. We took that check and bought a new car; this new car would require a few years’ worth of car payments, but we were in a position to pay those, or so we thought.
Days after our purchase, my husband called me with the news. He had been let go from his job. This was completely unexpected, and it was done in a way that was very personal and hurtful. We loved my husband’s co-workers, and so in some sense, that day we didn’t even just lose a job, but our people too. Why was all this happening? Why did we keep getting knocked down, barely able to stand back up?
Loving God—affirming His goodness, clinging to His truths—in the midst of whys and crises is one of the hardest things we will ever learn to do. And it is one of those things that we often have to learn the hard way.
But how we respond in a season of hardship is shaped by the truths ingrained in us during the times that are not crises. The truths below became our battle cry at times, claiming what we knew to be true, even when it didn’t “feel” like it. May these truths resound in our hearts and minds as we walk through our days!
1. His Grace Is New Every Morning
During those difficult times, we learned to look for the small graces, the things we’d often take for granted: like a home that had walls and was not torn down to the studs. (I’m pretty sure I’d never thanked God for the walls in my home until after Hurricane Harvey.)
And we were also reminded that God takes hard, bad things all the time, and turns them into something good. So while the circumstances all around us were crazy, I have to say that our marriage only grew stronger and closer. I’ve never felt more David’s partner than during this hard season. And that was all because of God’s grace to us during this time.
Recognizing this grace enables us to love God, because we see not only that He cares and provides, but also that He redeems. We see that He is worthy of worship and praise, and thus, worthy of love.
2. God’s Goodness Is Not Dependent on Circumstances
The most difficult thing I learned during this year is that God is good regardless of my circumstances. Even if our home had flooded, God would still be good. Even if one of us were killed in the car accident, God would still be on His throne. He is not good only when things seemingly go our way. He is good and He is God, and nothing, no circumstance, can change that.
Sin and evil have infected our world, and because of that, tragic things happen sometimes, but none of that changes the truth that God is good, and that He wins in the end. God hates death, and in His new kingdom, death and sickness will have no place. Affirming and remembering God’s plan for us in the long run—that we are eternal, that we belong to Him, that our time in this world is not the end of the story—all of this helps us to recognize and acknowledge God’s goodness in the midst of difficulties.
3. The Valley Is a Place of Vision
During this time, I was reminded of a prayer from a book my professor had often used, called The Valley of Vision. The title prayer is a beautiful picture of how—though we might assume that being on the mountaintop gives us a better view—it is actually the valley that is a place of vision. It is when we are in our darkness that we can see His light. The poem reads, “. . . I live in the depths, but see you in the heights; Hemmed in by mountains of sin, I behold your glory.”
The author continues and says that in the valley we learn that Jesus’ way, though it may be paradoxical to the world, shows us, “That to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart. . . that to have nothing is to possess all. . . that the valley is the place of vision.”
And so this is where my family sits, in the valley, trusting and getting glimpses of His vision for us. I’d love to tell you that this hard year has been tied up in a nice little bow and everything is perfect now, but that wouldn’t be the truth. Yes, things are definitely looking up, but we are in a waiting position, sitting still, lifting our eyes to the hills. Why? Because He is where our helps comes from.
May our love and affection for our wondrous Savior ever increase, even in the valley.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series on learning to love God in the midst of life’s challenges. Click here to read about how another contributor learned to love God through grieving the death of a friend.