Finding Strength in Hard Times
by Kate Breslin
We’ve all had moments in life when our plans go awry, oftentimes during the holidays. Crushing disappointment as our expectations plummet into a reality we’d rather not face. Our lives turn upside down with the loss of a career, or shatter completely at the sudden illness or death of a loved one. In the blink of an eye our world shifts, leaving us dazed and weakened, and we wonder what to do next. How will we have the strength to go on?
The words of St. Paul come to my mind when he speaks of suffering, “But [The Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).
Years ago, I had worked my way up the ladder to become a construction sales manager. I enjoyed the job, but it was long hours and stressful, and the fact that I was missing time with my family gnawed at me. Still, I convinced myself I could climb beyond the ever-growing mountain of reports and sales quotas, and reduce the hours it took away from those I loved. I had left my faith years before, and being terribly self-reliant, I micro-managed work rather than delegating to others, and each day as I tried to move ahead of my job, the job always moved faster.
I lost my dad in February of that year, but didn’t have time to fully process my grief. Instead, I handled employee issues at the office and continued to increase the bottom line. Being the boss, I secured the larger sales and in particular, a contract close to a million-dollars with a very important client. After my corporate boss had approved the supplier we’d be working with, the deal was accepted, and I was thrilled. It meant a feather in my professional cap and profit-sharing for my employees.
My troubles began with the scheduled arrival of equipment. Our supplier kept changing delivery dates, and as the weeks passed and his excuses mounted, I developed a sick feeling. When my client grew alarmed, I knew I had to fly back east to see what was happening.
Arriving at the manufacturing facility, my sick feeling increased tenfold. We’d been misled; nothing was as it should be. My million-dollar deal was about to implode. Two weeks in and I was still there, trying to fix the situation without success. When my corporate boss told me to return home and see what we could salvage, I imagined myself getting fired and losing all that I’d worked for.
As I sat in my hotel room that night, my husband called. His father had passed away, and he and our son were flying home to his family for the funeral. I remember offering him comfort, yet as I hung up the phone, I’d never felt so alone, so powerless, in my life. I began to grieve—for both my dad and his, and because my husband was three thousand miles away and needed me and I wasn’t there.
I mentioned earlier that I’d left my faith; though I was raised Christian, the world’s pull on me was stronger once I left home. Charting my own course, doing as I pleased, that’s what I wanted. Or so I’d thought…
I lay against the bed’s coverlet, a hollow ache piercing me. For the first time in a long while, I felt helpless, out of control. In a matter of weeks, my life had come crashing down around me, and I couldn’t pick up the pieces to make it right again.
Eyes damp, I raised myself up and I thought about God—I mean, I really thought about Him. I slid off the bed onto my knees and I prayed. Not the recited prayers of childhood, but I spoke to Him, cried to Him, begged Him. I told God I couldn’t do this alone.
Finally peace, like a tiny ray of hope began settling over me. I didn’t fully understand it then, but I knew I was no longer by myself in that room. I postponed my flight home, and the next day I drove across three states to meet with my husband, my son, and the rest of the family. Their love surrounding me was a balm to my wounded soul, and I determined that when I got back to my office and faced my client—if I still had a job—I would simply do my best and let God handle the rest.
“Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV).
As it turned out, I kept my job, and my client and I resolved the million-dollar problem. I can only attribute that miracle to a night long ago, in a solitary hotel room, when I handed over my trust to the Lord and prayed He would make things right.
I’m no longer working in that world of construction; now, steeped in my love for Christ and my family, I’m fulfilling my passion writing historical inspirational fiction. In my newest book release, In Love’s Time, my story characters Marcus and Clare have trust issues—with each other and their future together, and as it turns out, with God. In order to find the strength to reclaim what they’ve lost, they must surrender all to the Lord, as He is made perfect in their weakness, and will make their paths straight.
Writing their story, I understood how difficult that leap of faith can be, especially when one feels powerless. Yet trusting in God, we know that even in the most difficult times, He walks beside us, He strengthens us. He keeps us going.
Author Kate Breslin is a two-time Christy Award finalist and winner of the Carol Award, and lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her family. She loves hiking, gardening and traveling. Her sixth novel with Bethany House, In Love’s Time, released in December 2022. Please visit her at www.katebreslin.com