Hold On or Give Up?

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 You love God, but you’re not sure He’s paying any attention to your life, so you’ve withdrawn to the shadows of hopelessness for now.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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