There are times in our lives when the “storms of life” send us into despair, anxiety and intense suffering.  The following article by Chris Stravitsch, Executive Director of Rejoice Counseling Apostolate, offers guidance for finding hope in these intense times. If you are currently struggling with one of life’s many storms, know that we are here to help. Our professional counselors will guide you through personal struggles, relationship problems, or family trials. Just give us a call to discuss your counseling needs or send us an email here.

Through Life’s Storms…Hope

In times of great darkness, when life does not make sense and the light of God seems like a faint memory, we must, with ever greater care, “approach [God] with a sincere heart and in absolute trust” (Hebrews 10:22).

Unfortunately, many people lose hope and enter despair or depression from the overwhelming sufferings that come with such trials as chronic illness, family hardships, loss of loved ones, or nearing the end of life. Nevertheless, these are the times when we need God the most and when God’s heart suffers for us with great love. Our Creed begins with these words: “I believe in God.” We do not say this lightly; rather, it is a profound confession of faith and of hope. For if we believe in God then we must also trust in Christ’s promises, relying not on our own strength but on the Holy Spirit. So in times of crisis, let us “hold unwavering to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy” (Hebrews 10:23). God truly wants to journey with us through our darkest moments.

We can probably all remember the Gospel account of the “Calming of the Storm at Sea” (Gospel of Mark 4:35-41). In this account, the disciples were suddenly overcome by a violent squall. The waves broke over the boat as they were thrown in every direction. Panicked and afraid, the disciples ran to find Jesus where he was sleeping in the stern. They woke him and asked, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Jesus then rebuked the wind and the sea and everything became calm. Looking to his disciples He asked, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”

We may have never seen a storm at sea, but we all know what it is like to face storms in our lives. All too often they come upon us unpredictably and we feel tossed in every direction by their complexity. Like the disciples, we may become panicked and afraid, tempted to think that Jesus does not care that we feel as though we are perishing. While we suffer and struggle, we wonder why He is silent. Is God listening? Why is this happening? Jesus, where are you? Yet as this Gospel passage shows us, Jesus not only cares, but He will also remain by our side and comfort us through the storm. A popular Christian song by Scott Krippayne says, “Some-times He calms the storm and other times He calms His child.” Jesus may not always fix the problem; He may not heal us from our illnesses or take away our physical pain, but He will strengthen us, comfort our hearts, and bring peace to our stricken souls. But we must do our part too. In the story, Jesus wished the disciples had greater faith in Him. Instead of fearing the storm, the disciples could have entered the stern and simply sat near Jesus. Then, in the chaos of the storm, they could have rested confidently in God’s peace. Similarly, when we face the storms of life, we should draw near to Jesus in confidence, for hope is “the anchor of the soul, sure and firm” (Hebrews 6:19).

So how do we grow in the virtue of hope? First of all, hope is a gift. We receive it when we are baptized into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Hope is then intensified by living a sacramental life. Receiving the Eucharist unites us with Christ. The sacrament of Reconciliation brings spiritual consolation and friendship with God. Anointing of the Sick strengthens us against discouragement and anguish in the face of illness or old age.

Natural habits also encourage hope, like a good sense of humor, an optimistic outlook, and reminding ourselves, “This, too, shall pass.” Hope is strengthened through daily perseverance in life.

Finally, hope is fostered and protected through a strong interior life based in faith. Faithful prayer and hope in God places us in the peaceful presence of Jesus when the rest of life feels like a storm.

Let us pray with the Psalmist: “My soul, be at rest in God alone, from whom comes my hope” (Psalm 62:6).