Enjoy this devotional from FlourishWriters Student Krista Hutcherson
Darkness crept up my back, reached through my chest, and lodged a boulder of inescapable despair between my lungs and heart. My body like lead, I made the long trek from work to my parent’s house, internal thoughts reaching a crescendo of desperation. A monster named addiction had devoured my husband, demolishing our marriage without remorse, and I was helpless to stop it. Finding the environment physically and emotionally unsafe, I sought shelter in the home of my parents. Furious, my husband had not spoken to me in days and I was unsure if he would show up at our previously scheduled counseling appointment that week. The quicksand of defeat engulfed me, pouring into my eyes and ears and mouth.
Help me, God.
My fingers hit the repeat button on the CD player and the first strains of a worship song reached out to cradle and comfort my heaving heart, but in vain. Never failing to lift me out of depression in the past, the song now collided with an invisible barrier surrounding my spirit, forming nothing but background noise, muted and uninspired. Overwhelming emotions crashed like ocean waves against the walls of my chest with echoing roars that I was alone, my situation was hopeless, and God could not reach me.
I can’t do this anymore, God. Where are you?
Without warning, an internal projector displayed a scene on the canvas of my mind. I was in a white sundress, spinning in a field with my arms flung wide, my face tilted towards the sun, smiling. Joy radiated from my skin as I heard God say in my spirit, “This will be you, Krista. You will dance in freedom.”
Of course, I sighed, one day in heaven.
I sensed Him smile. “No, He continued, this will be you here on earth. I will bring you through this to freedom and you will experience joy through your suffering.”
At once, a waterfall of peace and light poured over my spirit. I was certain this vision was from the Holy Spirit and I was not simply seeking a way to console myself. Painful circumstances had delivered blow after blow, leaving my heart crumpled and broken on the ground with defeat. But at the sound of His voice, I felt it rise, sprout wings, and soar around inside my chest, gently carried and supported by His Truth. Reaching my parent’s house, I stepped out of the car and into my mom’s embrace.
“God spoke to me!” I said, my face buried in her neck, my skin still warm from the glow of God’s Presence. “Everything will be all right.” I looked her in the eyes. “I will be all right.”
But instead of receiving the joy that God had promised me, my circumstances and the resulting pain only worsened. My husband bowed to his addiction, gave up on our marriage, and divorced me. Overwhelming anxiety and panic attacks, flashbacks, and insomnia hijacked my body and I was eventually diagnosed with PTSD. One particular night, I cried out for hours for God to help me, but silence cloaked the walls of my bedroom. I remembered the vision He’d given of me in a white dress, spinning in a field, free and joyful, and what He’d said to me. When would I be that girl? I cried myself into a fitful sleep, resigned to the fact that I was alone and forgotten.
Many nights passed. But one morning, as I read my Bible, the Holy Spirit highlighted a specific verse: “The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving, and the sound of singing” (Isaiah 51:3 NIV). I inserted my name in place of Zion and realized that I felt the exact opposite. In my times of despair when I didn’t experience God’s presence, I believed, “The Lord will surely ignore Krista and look with disappointment and disgust on all her ruins; he will make her deserts barren, her wastelands like hell. Despair and sadness will be found in her, discontentment, and the sound of wailing.”
Have you ever felt abandoned by God in your suffering? Perhaps you’ve said to yourself:
My situation is hopeless.
Things will always be this way.
No one can save me, not even God.
His promises sound nice, but they don’t apply to my life.
He is not listening and has forgotten me.
Satan hisses in our ear, Do you actually think God meant it when He said He would never leave you or forsake you, that He is for you and not against you, that He is working good out of your trials? Do you think He meant it for you? Satan directs our gaze to our circumstances, causing them to sharpen into focus as God’s promises shrink and fade into the background. We compare what we can see and feel with God’s Word, and it seems obvious. God’s Word sounds good but our circumstances are reality! We reach desperately for Him in our pain, but when He is silent, our emotions scream the loudest and we believe them over God.
Charles Spurgeon said that we lose hope when we gaze at our “wastelands”. Dear friend, have you been focusing on the wastelands of your problems instead of God’s promises? When you are overcome with hopelessness as you gaze at the futility of your situation, remember your emotions and experiences do not necessarily reflect the truth! Instead, redirect your focus to God’s Word, which trumps every human perception, and ask God to help you believe Him over your circumstances. When you focus on God instead of your wastelands, you will find hope and strength to persevere.
It would be years before I would walk in the freedom God promised me, and I am still on this journey of healing. But the suffering I experienced drove me to cling to Him in desperation through scripture memorization, prayer, and Bible study. As I focused my gaze on Him and believed Him over my circumstances, the lies I’d allowed to root in my mind gradually withered in defeat as the truth of God’s Word stomped proudly across them, pounding them into the dust. And one day, I realized that the vision God gave me many years before had come true. The lessons I’d learned from the pain I’d endured gifted me with a deeper faith and stronger intimacy with God. My journey was not yet complete, but I was not who I used to be. Through the wastelands of my life, God was transforming me into the girl from my vision, spinning around with joy in a field of freedom.
God wants you to know that no matter how dark it appears or how long you wait in silence for an answer to your suffering, His promises are true and nothing can separate you from His love. Raise your eyes from your wastelands, focus them on God, and He will help you persevere and remind you that He is with you in your pain, and has compassion for you. Joy and gladness will be found in you, thanksgiving, and the sound of singing!
Krista Hutcherson is an Early Childhood Special Education teacher, writer, mixed media artist, bookworm, and music lover. She is also an exercise enthusiast who especially enjoys paddleboarding, kickboxing, and yoga. Her story of recovery from an eating disorder was published in the book, Hope for Recovery: Stories of Healing from Eating Disorders, and she was recently interviewed about her story on the podcast, Eating Disorders: Navigating Recovery. She loves writing poetry and is currently working on a spiritual memoir about her healing journey and how God rescued her. She is passionate about using her words and art to give encouragement to other women who are suffering while helping them to know God and find freedom.