Sometimes life just doesn’t go the way we planned it. Despite our best efforts, life has a way of forcing itself upon us in ways we could neither foresee nor prepare for. I haven’t lived a very long time, but I’ve learned that there are seasons when life seems to get the best of us; seasons when we feel overwhelmed and defeated; seasons in which we must take a step back to rethink everything.

The biblical narrative is replete with characters that faced this very same season in life. Moses was living a life of luxury until he accidentally killed a man and ended up living in a tent in the desert for the next forty years. David was the most powerful man in the country until his son Absalom took his throne from him and hunted him down like a dog. Elijah ran for his life deep into the desert, sat under a tree, and begged God to take him. Hosea had a wife that was so promiscuous that he named her children “not loved” and “not my people”. Peter was chained in a dungeon simply for telling the truth. Paul was left for dead in the town dump after being stoned by an angry mob. Even Jesus himself, in the Garden of Gethsemane, faced a season which he desired to avoid with every fiber of his being.

Life is hard. There is no avoiding this. Even when we do everything right, the wheels can come off leaving us desperate, alone, and afraid. It has been this way throughout history. Even the most righteous people we know have struggled with this season of life. The difference for followers of Jesus is only how we respond during these seasons. Will we cling to God as our only hope, or will we run from God out of anger? I’ve seen people do both. I’ve seen good, church-going people do both. The people in the biblical narrative are different because they cling to God, continuing to trust him despite their troubles.

God hasn’t promised us an easy life: he only promised that we wouldn’t have to live life alone; unless, of course, we choose to. There are times when the only choices before us are bad and worse. This is our reality on this side of heaven. Life is full of distressing seasons. The righteous cling to God with voracity trusting that he will keep his promises even in the most desperate times. For no matter how dark life seems to be, it is always darker without God.