This morning as I donned my t-shirt, leggings, and walking shoes, I walked out the door to find it chilly enough to return inside for a sweatshirt to complete my walking wardrobe. The sun shone brightly, but heat had not yet descended upon the day. The breeze was chilly, and the air still crisp as leaves and dropped acorns crunched under the weight of my feet.
All signs pointed to a change of seasons, and the promise of autumn in Texas; a welcome change to the blistering summer heat. It happened seemingly overnight, and yet in reality, it’s been slowly coming for weeks. The days have been shorter and the nights have been cooler, and the air conditioning has been less needed. Yet if I didn’t intentionally give credence to these subtle changes, the seasonal change would have taken me by surprise.
The summer had been blisteringly hot, warming the swimming pools and lakes to an uninviting condition. It was not uncommon to hear the sentiment, “I can’t wait for fall or winter to get here.” And it did, without any effort on our part, but rather by an act of our Creator.
“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”
The year itself had been long, filled with trials and times that left us wandering in the valley. Each trial felt like an ocean surge crashing us against the rocks, beaten and bruised, wondering where it had come from, and how we didn’t see it coming.
A 12-week bout of pneumonia/bronchitis/flu took over six months to fully regain my lung capacity. The death of a friend/mentor/prayer warrior on the first day of our summer vacation ushered in a reminder of the fragility of life, and the uncertainty of the number of our days. A diagnosis of cancer for my husband the same day that my book “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” released took the wind out of our sails, and took our breath away as we began the treatment process with strong hopes for remission. Multiple staff who were more like family than employees, reluctantly turned in their resignation as they prepared for out of state moves, leaving us in a state of flux and turmoil, knowing that training would be long and the office less than stable once suitable candidates were found.
When trials hit, and crisis looms, it can feel much like a natural disaster that hits without warning then leaves debris scattered in its path. After a disaster strikes, the news focuses on the disaster and that’s all you hear about for days or weeks.
The same thing happens in our hearts after a crisis hits. Our focus and attention is diverted to the crashing waves that threaten to pull us under thought after thought after thought. All we want is to escape the effects unscathed, and for some state of normalcy to return. We do our best to pick up the pieces of our broken life and wrap our arms around them in a meager attempt to hold them together. Until one day. One day when we wake up and realize that the season is changing and the apex of the crisis has passed, and there we sit in a new normal, having survived even if a bit battered and bruised.
It is God our Creator who causes the seasons to change, and God who deserves our praise. He is the author and finisher of our faith, and the one who will cause all things to work together for our good and for His glory.
In the storm, Peter put his faith in action (Matthew 14) and got out of the boat to walk toward Jesus…the only one who could save him in the storm. As long as he kept his eyes on the Savior, he would be kept afloat. But as soon as he focused on his circumstances, the storm around him threatened to pull him under. Just as Peter cried out, “Lord save me…” so too, are we encouraged to cry out to Him in our need and we will find Him reaching out his hand to steady us.
I don’t know what season you are in right now, but we all have a choice to make. Where will you put your focus—on the storm or the One who can still every storm we face?
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)
A short brief about Hope Prevails.
Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Depression doesn’t have to become a permanent part of life.
There is hope.
Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression and the companion Hope Prevails Bible Study help the reader understand how depression comes to be, recover their joy, reclaim their peace, and re-establish their true identity, while knowing their worth, remembering their secure destiny, and being confident that nothing separates them from God’s love.
Hope Prevails and the Hope Prevails Bible Study are must-reads for anyone suffering from depression or knows someone suffering from depression.
“As a counselor, I have read many books on depression, but I have never read a book that deals with the spiritual aspect of healing as thoroughly as does Hope Prevails. Dr. Bengtson draws from her own personal journey as well as her professional experience. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has tasted the pain of depression or knows a friend who is depressed.” ~ Gary Chapman, Ph.D., Author of The 5 Love Languages
Michelle, it sounds as of you’ve been in the heat of things in every way. So much sadness, challenge, sickness and grief to have to deal with. Yet through the storm you point the way to the One who walks on water, offering a hand to His drowning sons and daughters. When battered and bruised by life we receive all the soul solace we need from our ever-faithful Saviour. I’m so sorry to hear about the losses and laments of the last few months, but I am in awe at the way God has held you steady and provided opportunity to continue to reach out and bless others. I’ll be checking out your latest book! May God continue to bless and strengthen you. xo
Joy, it has been a stormy few months to be sure. But just as Jesus was faithful in the storm to rescue Peter, He has been faithful to walk with us as well. Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
Thank you so much for this very timely post.
I am in the throws of grieving as my husband and I just became an empty nesters just two days ago. Our empty nest is felt more profoundly because my daughter, son-in-law and precious 20 month old granddaughter (who has lived with us since the day she was born) left after almost three years living with us. The house is deafeningly quiet and the walls echo with the two empty rooms, waiting to be filled once again.
I find that nighttime is the worst and that’s when all my thoughts turn to my grief. I did hear a quote recently that “the only way to get past grief is to walk through it” so I am allowing myself that. But I can become too consumed with my thoughts and found great encouragement in this post reminding me to focus on my Heavenly Father not on the circumstances.
Your words, “Until one day. One day when we wake up and realize that the season is changing and the apex of the crisis has passed, and there we sit in a new normal, having survived even if a bit battered and bruised.” lifted my spirits this evening. Thank you so much for your sweet insights and your wonderful encouragement.
Karen, my heart goes out to you in your season of grief and longing. I pray that God wraps you up in His tender care and comforts you as only He can do. Feel the grief, and let Him heal it. He is faithful to walk with us through it. There is no other way. Because of Him, #HopePrevails.
Even in the midst of your trials, you have continued to be a light bearer, a beacon of hope to so many others. I’ve been guilty of turning my focus away when the storm crashes around me. Easier? Often yes, but I am learning to fix my eyes on Jesus and not allow the winds to take me where He is not leading me. Continued prayers for your and yours my friend.
Barbie, in the midst of the trials the enemy would like nothing more than for us to give up or turn away. But I refuse to give him the satisfaction. God has been too good and too faithful for me to give up on Him. This is just one more opportunity for Him to show His greatness and for me to learn something new while He receives the glory. Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
In the midst…trials need Jesus, as you beautifully declare, Michelle. I know we each and all have many and when we know the Lord, we need to remember just Who we need to call upon and when we need to do that. Thank you for your words and thoughtful depth.
I appreciate this account of God’s faithfulness – even in the midst of stormy and frightening times. Thanks for keeping our eyes on the Hope that prevails.
God bless you with encouragement and strength and also some miraculous answers to prayer during this trying time you and your loved one are going through!
Thank you Elizabeth. He encourages us through the prayers and comments of fellow believers such as yourself! Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
Bless you as you face trials, and thank you for sharing your hope with others.
Thanks for joining the Grace at Home party. I’m featuring you this week!