Hold On or Give Up?

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Adolescent Girl with Head in HandsShe looked at me with hopelessness as deep as the ocean in her eyes. “I’m tired of holding on to a dream that seems more elusive with each passing day.” Then she literally screamed through her tears, “What’s the point of hoping my husband will change when he’s more abusive now than ever before?”

Have you ever held on to a dream for so long that it’s become a nightmare? What once filled you with hope and gave you strength now sucks the marrow right out of your bones. Your dreams, your prayers, and your promises from God seem to mock you now and leave you in a cesspool of despair.

Maybe it’s not been weeks or months, but years and decades of waiting. For a season, you prayed hard and believed in faith for great things, but your prayers are only whimpers now and you can smell the stench of bitterness growing in your soul.

“Will my son ever be free of drugs?”

“Will I ever get pregnant?”

“Will I ever find a spouse and the love of my life?”

If one more person tells you to “hold on”, you’re going to hurt somebody! If you hear “let go and let God” one more time, you’re going to go crazy!

You’re tired of the struggle and exhausted from sleepless nights filled with worry. Nothing in you wants to go through another day of wondering and waiting. You love God, but you’re not sure He’s paying any attention to your life, so you’ve withdrawn to the shadows of hopelessness for now.

Give up dark street

I’ve been there. Like you, I know the agony of waiting. Of course, my story is different from yours, and yours might be darker than mine. But I’ve lived a chunk of my life in the shadow of death too.

So here’s what I’m not going to do:

•    I’m not going to give you three steps to finding victory over your despair.

•    I’m not going to offer some advice about how to make all your dreams come true.

•    I’m certainly not going to be another voice that tells you to suck it up!

There are only two things I humbly propose you consider:

•    You are not alone in that valley of darkness (even though you feel like you are).

•    You only need to take the next step.

I look back now over the sea of decades in my life, and I realize that in some of my darkness moments, God was there. Honestly, I didn’t feel Him or even trust Him at times, but He was there nonetheless.

I understand telling someone they are not alone can be quite irritating when they think they are abandoned. There’s a part of us that wants to blame God for our predicament. So being told “He is with you” makes us even madder and even more frustrated.

“If God is with me, WHY the heck is this happening?!”

Give up dark alleyI have no simple or pat answers to offer, but I know He has never left me, and I know I have never truly been alone. Neither are you.

David sometimes felt alone and abandoned, but he wrote these words of truth in perhaps the best known Psalm on the planet, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger because you are with me” Psalm 23:4 (NIV).

Today, get up and take one step forward. Choose to take one step in the right direction even when you feel desperate and afraid. (Tweet this!) You might take several steps backwards in the process, but press on because the alternative is worse.

“But I’m so tired . . . I don’t think I can face another day of anguish.“

I know.

Just face the next minute and the next hour . . . one step at a time.

Marathons are exhausting. (I’ve finished two of them, so I know.) When you hit the wall every fiber of your being screams at you to stop, to quit, and to give up. Do you want to know how to finish? You take the next step, and you put one foot in front of the other. Through the wind, the rain, the storm, and the pain, you choose to press on one moment at a time.

Give up Next Step Runner Foot

Trust me, the finish line is coming. One way or the other, in this life or the next, you’ll cross that line and hear those words, “Well done, son/daughter, you stayed the course, and I’m proud of you.”

Hold on or give up? The choice is yours, and you are loved no matter what, but you will never regret pressing on.

May I pray for you?

Father, sometimes in anguish we pray the prayer of Jesus, ‘Take this cup from me!” and we’re terrified. Sometimes we feel lost and stuck in the swamp of our struggles. Sometimes we wonder if You care or if You’re really there in the shadows of our misery. Help us. Hold us. Somehow, by Your grace, empower us to take the next step even when we are afraid, empty, and weak. We are desperate for You.

Give up Marathon Sunset

God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

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12 Responses to Hold On or Give Up?

  1. Kurt,

    Thanks for the encouragement. Thanks for not giving 3 easy steps! The darkness that we can find ourselves in is about our perception, not God’s presence. it’s good to be reminded of that while we’re taking our steps in the dark.

  2. Interesting and so true. I just wrote in my personal journal on March 24th the times in my life that I have felt abandoned, totally. I labeled one period “the murder of my soul”. BUT this: “The One who never leaves you is the same One who never changes.’ (Sarah Young, Jesus Calling). He will NEVER LET GO OF MY HAND. Reminding me of a childhood dream, walking down my neighborhood street, and Jesus holding my hand. He still is. Sometimes I just forget.

  3. The thing that got me thru the hardest time of my life was remembering that it was all about the “Audience of One”. I would literally tell myself to pull back the covers to put one leg out of the bed, then the next, to get up, to get dressed, to go to work, to cry out to God (I mean HE already knew what I was feeling so I wasn’t going to pretend or lie to HIM in my anguish or frustration) when I felt like there was no hope. In those moments I would know that no matter what my circumstances were I knew that God would have me. That HE would NEVER leave me, that no matter what I felt at the moment that HE had NOT abandoned me. Good words Kurt, it’s the one step at time, getting thru the moment, telling yourself to keep going and to keep knowing that even when it doesn’t feel like it HE is still there.

    • Love it, Pat, you’re right . . . it’s all about our audience of One! Thanks for your insights.

  4. The last four years have been very difficult for me, which incudes many bad choices, decisions and circumstances of life. However, I never let go of my Faith and contiunued to Pray. I constantly felt I needed God’s reassurance and presence to survive, but I now realize He was teaching me Faith is supported by Trust in Him. I need to Trust in my Faith with GOD!

  5. The Holy Spirit lead me to this today. After reading the 1st few lines… I thought that sounds just like me this morning! I have to admit that I had reached the point of giving up. After all, God would still love me and I could at least move on and get on with my life. You see, I’ve been praying… hoping and standing that my marriage would be reconciled after 11 years. Recently she contacted me out of the blue and asked for forgiveness and wants to come home. Promised she wanted to be my wife and do God’s will and keep the covenant We had made before Him. I had already forgiven her and wanted to reconcile for His Glory.

    She told me this morning that she had met someone and we “needed to talk…” My flesh gave in to letting her know that I was done “waiting in vain” and for her and to just sign the divorce papers.

    I regret that now after reading this. I will be praying that He uses this to strengthen us both and that the deception ends. In the end all I really want is to Glorify God and that others would see Him through me.

    Thanks for these words, and for your prayers.

    • Paul, heartbroken for you . . . praying right now for Jesus to bring His healing touch to both of you and your marriage. You are loved.

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