Keeping Hope Alive in Life’s Storms
by Grace Fox
Living near Vancouver, British Columbia, means dealing with dark, damp, dreary winters. I find November through March especially challenging because the rain seldom stops. Humidity and wind make a combo that chills me to the bone. We call it “damp cold.” But there’s more.
I live fulltime on a sailboat moored on the Fraser River. Winter brings windstorms that howl through our vessel’s rigging. Gusts froth the water into waves that splash and rock our forty-eight-foot hull. Sometimes I hunker inside for several days because harsh weather makes for uneasy walks on the dock. Thankfully, I’ve only done one face plant, but that scare made me determined to avoid unnecessary risk at all cost. Better safe than sorry.
Short days, long nights, a lack of sunshine and an abundance of rain provide a character development program for me. Occasionally, I catch myself wishing that our boat were anchored near a sandy beach populated by pineapples and palm trees. But then reality draws me back to my space on the dock. This is the place where the Lord brought me. Wind and rain pummeling our boat-home goes with the territory. I choose to be glad and rejoice no matter what the weather looks like.
And then one day it happens. The clouds part and blue skies appear. I take a walk along the river, and I see it—a purple crocus. The sight soothes my soul. It promises me that winter will end and spring will come bearing gifts of warmth and daffodils and ducklings.
Life’s like that, isn’t it? We all experience stormy seasons sooner or later. It’s not a matter of if but when. Darkness surrounds us. Difficulties pummel us. The wind and waves rock our little boat, and we hang on for dear life, wishing this season would end.
Two months before Keeping Hope Alive: Devotions for Strength in the Storm released, wind and waves began to rock my boat. Five friends died within a few weeks, the oldest only fifty-three. Three days before the launch, my younger brother landed in ICU and on a ventilator. Blow after blow left me longing to hunker down inside my real-life boat and wait for the storm to subside, but that wasn’t an option. Then came a gust that broadsided and nearly capsized my boat: On launch morning, I received an email from someone dear. He said our society is a mess because people have an inaccurate understanding of Scripture and that my devotional books—with their brief meditations—have contributed to the problem. Ironically, the very truths I’d penned in Keeping Hope Alive threw me a life ring.
Real life storms vary in description and intensity, and they all hurt to some degree. On the upside, they provide a character development program of sorts. They teach us valuable life lessons that help us keep hope alive. Here are several lessons I’ve learned through a variety of storms in my lifetime.
God is with us in the storm.
When the storm strikes, we might wonder whether we did something wrong. We might feel as though God is distant or has abandoned us. The truth is, God is near. We find hope and strength renewed when we memorize and meditate on His promises such as Isaiah 43:2—“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:2 NIV). God always keeps His promises, so let’s walk in the truth of His presence.
God may have led us into the storm.
Exodus 14 tells the story about the Israelites being trapped between the Red Sea and the approaching Egyptian army. Their position in that vulnerable place was not accidental. They were there by God’s design because He wanted to reveal His glory in a seemingly impossible situation.
Perhaps we are where we are because God wants to show us His glory. Maybe He wants us to experience His supernatural strength in our weakness, and this is the best place for us to learn.
Gratitude is a necessity in the storm.
As I mentioned earlier, I find my region’s dark, dreary winters difficult, especially living in a boat. It’s easy to grumble or compare my lot in life to others living in a warm, dry house. That response does me no good; but giving thanks every day even for little things changes my attitude and grows contentment despite challenging circumstances. It parts the clouds and lets the Son shine through.
Spring will come and end the storm.
God has established physical seasons to come and go. The cold eventually turns warm. Spring arrives and brings new beginnings. It’s a guarantee. So it is with our lives. When we’re in the middle of the storm, we might feel as though it will never end. But rest assured, God has established a time and a season for everything.
Recall Joseph and the trials he endured. His brothers sold him into slavery and he served prison time for a crime he didn’t commit. Perhaps he wondered whether his storm would ever end. Eventually, it did—in God’s time (Psalm 105:19). And when that time came, Joseph stepped from prison prepared for a new beginning, one that he never could have imagined (Genesis 41:37-44).
Storms come. It’s not a matter of if but when. Let’s keep hope alive by walking in the truth of God’s character and Word. As Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.”
Grace Fox is the author of 12 books, a member of the “First 5” writing team (P31 Ministries) and co-host to the podcast “Your Daily Bible Verse.” A career missionary for nearly 30 years, Grace lives aboard a sailboat in Vancouver with her husband of 40 years.