By Patty Breen
I have recently come out of a period in my own life where I lived with little hope.
Seven months after I got married, I found out many painful truths about my husband. The worst and most traumatizing of all was discovering he was a sex addict. I was completely devastated. I worked and prayed more fiercely than any other time in my life. I was willing and open to do whatever it took to work on and save our marriage. In the end, I had to walk away and am now in the middle of the annulment process.
To say there were times I felt utterly hopeless was an understatement.
I felt trapped and very afraid. I didn't know what the future of my marriage held for me. In the second reading, St. Paul is writing to the Christians in Rome. And his opening words took my breath away as I prayed on what to write: “…that by endurance and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Where should I find hope amid evil, pain, and trauma? In God’s Word.
I continually found my hope and encouragement in God’s Word, more specifically, in the promises of God: That He is faithful… he uses all pain and suffering for a greater purpose I may not understand now… that I am never alone…that He is a good Father… that He always keeps His promises. I found my hope in the promise that God was with me in a very painful, confusing time. I found hope in the promise that I am not alone, even when at times I felt very alone. I found hope in recovery groups and befriending women who had walked a similar path like myself.
Repeating these promises to myself (sometimes multiple times a day) was and has become such a spiritual lifeline for me.
I can have hope because God is always doing something in my life, even if I do not fully understand it. He is using the messy stuff to make something more beautiful than I could ever imagine. He takes the brokenness and makes into abundance.
When life feels bleak and despairing, the truth and promise of Scripture is what speaks to the pain in life. The entire story is a beautiful repetition; a repetition of God’s passionate, faithful care for His children. He goes before me as pillar of fire, just as He did for the children of Israel.
He see’s me. He knows me. I am never forgotten.
I no longer live without hope. I am walking into an unknown future. But I move forward with the truth and promise that my Heavenly Father will use all of this to do something mighty for the glory of His Kingdom. God loves to use broken things to heal and restore His children. And that is why I have hope, because God can use all things (yes even broken marriages) for a greater purpose in His plan.
May each of us cling to these words of St. Paul when life presents suffering and pain:
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to thinking harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Hope and endurance are always possible.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Patty is a former-know-it-all from the Mitten state. She loves all things red lipstick, old movies, and is mildly obsessed with Ignatian spirituality and reading lots of books. She is a youth minister, writer, runner and thinks everyone should train for a half or full marathon. When not endlessly fundraising for World Youth Day, she is learning to find grace in all things, at all times. Find her blogging it all at A Modern Grace