Milk and Honey Magazine's article by singer Ginny Owens on how to have faith in God as a blind person, dealing with mean girls in middle school, and how to trust God even when it's hard.

How to Have Hope When Life is Hard

Ginny Owens

Here in the twenty-first century, we have so many great things in our lives—family, friends, and iPhones, just to name a few. But we live with a lot of stress, too, don’t we? Our lives have been turned upside down by an unprecedented pandemic. Social media captures our attention, but the photos of other people’s seemingly excellent, exciting lives twinge our hearts with a little sadness and longing for what we’re missing. And the harsh words people are willing to write there usher in a black cloud over our day.

So what do we do about it? How do we smile in the face of stress? How do we have power over feelings of hopelessness? I want to share with you how I’m learning to do it, in hopes that my story of overcoming will encourage you in yours.

Like you, I’m so grateful for the great things! I live in New York City, and I love the fast-paced, independent, diverse spirit of this crowded space. I’m thankful for my few great friends I can trust among the millions of people here. And I’m thankful for my phone, and how it helps me navigate from my apartment to anywhere I need to go. I especially depend on this technology because I am blind.

I lost my eyesight when I was three years old, after a surgery that did not go well. I was born with a degenerative eye condition, but I could see enough to learn my colors and the faces of my favorite people. I went into the hospital loving purple and my baby brother’s face, and a few hours later, I went home seeing nothing.

When you’re three and you have fabulous parents, not being able to see actually isn’t a big problem. I learned to ride my bike and climb trees without any eyesight; I didn’t know that I was different. I only figured that out a couple of years later at school and church, when kids began to treat me differently. It was then I learned that the problem wasn’t that I couldn’t see. It was that I wasn’t like everyone else.

I spent a lot of time processing my thoughts and feelings about being different by writing songs at the piano. I often heard that Jesus loved me, and I even wrote that concept into my songs, but there were days I struggled to believe and feel it.

The pain of loneliness and anxiety reached a fever pitch when I was in middle school. There was a group of mean girls—I think every middle school has one of those groups—and bullying me seemed to be their favorite sport. Sometimes, they’d take away my lunch while I tried to eat, or call me stupid to my face, or make jokes about me as if I couldn’t hear. And on one particular day, they went for all three. And more.

I went home lost in a haze of pain and hurt. I did not understand that their unkindness was coming from their own insecurity. I just wanted not to be different anymore. When my mom asked how my day had been, I didn’t tell her much, but somehow she knew. She sensed the heavy weight I was carrying. And she said something I’ve never forgotten.

“Ginny, you know Jesus is always your best friend, but there will be days when it feels like He’s your only friend. Remember, you can trust Him. He knows your pain, so tell Him everything.”

I believed what my mom said, but in that moment, I just wanted to belong. I wanted the girls at school to like me. Still, I took my first step on the path of learning to find hope in Jesus. What I’ve now come to understand is that Jesus experienced deep pain, too. He knew what it was like to be misunderstood, even by those closest to Him. He was also bullied by people that should have accepted Him. And He experienced the deepest, darkest loneliness and pain, feeling rejected by God His Father, as He died on the Cross. And do you know what? He endured all that suffering and experienced all that pain because He loved you and me so much that He wanted us to be with Him forever.

So when we bring our pain to Jesus, we are not talking to a distant god somewhere out there, but the One who loves us enough to have walked through suffering so that we could have hope, even in the midst of our deepest pain.

The Apostle Paul, a man whose life was miraculously changed by Jesus, helped his friends the Philippians, who were suffering lots of persecution, to find hope. And he did it in a letter he wrote from prison, where he spent years just for telling people about Jesus. He could have written about this unfair treatment. Instead, he challenged his friends not to be anxious, but to bring all their worries to God instead, and to thank Him for how He has answered their prayers in the past, and for how He would answer their present prayers in the future. And Paul promised them that if they would do this, peace would come. (Phil. 4:6-7)

As Martin Luther said, “Pray, and let God worry.” Overcoming with hope means we bring absolutely every worry, fear and doubt to God. We tell Him honestly about our pain, our failures, and our shame. And we ask Him to change us. But we also do something else. We thank Him for the blessings He’s given us. The good things we have.

I find it super helpful to write a gratitude list of five things I’m thankful for at the end of each day. Even if it’s been a really tough one, as I start to write down things to thank God for, more ideas come to me. My list is nearly always longer than five things. The crazy part is, the more I praise God for being faithful, and the more I praise Jesus for willingly giving His life for me and walking with me through my pain, the quieter my anxiety gets. And the more my hope grows.

I’ve learned that the more I talk honestly to Jesus about things, the more I trust Him. And I know the same will happen for you. I can’t promise that He’ll change your circumstances—He hasn’t changed mine. I still can’t see, and I still have to wrestle with the prejudices of other people. But He will absolutely change your heart, just like He’s changing mine. He will replace your anxiety with peace and your doubt with hopeAll you have to do is ask.

More about Ginny:

With an award-winning career that encompasses two decades as a singer/songwriter, recording artist, author, and speaker, Ginny Owens has released ten albums, five EPs, and two Christmas projects garnering critical success, chart topping radio singles, and numerous film and television placements. She continues to inspire others with the truth of the Gospel through personal stories, songs, and Bible teaching. In 2014, Ginny released her first book,Transcending Mysteries: Who is God And What Does He Want From Us. Her most recent set of EP’s, entitled Expressions I and Ii have amassed millions of streams across multiple platforms. Ginny currently resides in New York City and is in her final year of a Master of Biblical Studies at seminary.