How to Cling to Hope in Hard Times

There will be many things we walk through in this life that are dark and seem nearly hopeless. Life can be really beautiful and really hard—sometimes at the same time. There will be seasons that are dark and confusing, and other seasons that just feel long and full of endless waiting. In these times, it can be hard to know where to turn for comfort and even the smallest shred of hope.

Clinging to optimism and expectancy can be a really challenging affair, but with the Lord, all things are possible. If you’re wondering how you can hold on to hope during the really difficult seasons in your college career, take a look at the following considerations.

1. We can lean on Christ

There’s something really interesting about the way God’s grace enters our midst in times of trial. We look at people suffering through horrendous things, and we wonder how they can possibly bear it. But what might not be apparent (or maybe it is very apparent depending on the person) is that God’s grace is present in that situation, comforting those who mourn and cushioning them in on all sides.

This is something we can pray for and something we can take hold of no matter how challenging our circumstances are. The Bible is full of promises about who God is and how He cares for us, and oftentimes, it can be an incredible comfort to simply remember these gifts. If you’re having trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and all seems grim and dark, remember that in Christ, there is hope.

2. Try the Psalms

David’s poetic laments and praises were included in the Bible for a reason. There’s something very human about the way he cries out to the Lord and experiences the ups and downs of emotions—despair, loneliness, joy, and hope—all at once. If you’re feeling like your emotions are all over the place, take to the Psalms and try making a new one your prayer each day. It can be helpful to remember that you’re not the only human who has felt all the feelings all at once—many have gone before you!

Meditating on Scripture is one way to truly understand its meaning. Take one passage, read it through a few times, and then focus on a different section of verses at various times throughout the day. See if it doesn’t give you an extra measure of strength. Psalm 27: 13 says, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”

3. One day, when you look back 

When we’re in the midst of terrible times, it can be hard to see the Lord in any of it. Everything feels dark and confusing, and it can be a challenge to know who to turn to. Another hallmark individual in the Bible who suffered in this way was Job. He lost everything, and he certainly questioned everything, but at the end of the book of Job, he says the following:

“Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
   but now my eyes have seen you.” Job 42:3–6

Oftentimes, when we look back at difficult times we have endured and often walked through blindly, we can clearly see the hand of God on our circumstances. While God sometimes allows us to go through tough times, we can rest in the fact that He will meet us there in the midst of them, and He is available to comfort us and guide us—even if we can’t feel it at first.

4. We were never promised easy times

It’s an illusion and a question that most humans ask about: why am I going through something so terrible when I’m promised so much goodness by the Lord? Well, the thing is, Christians were never promised easy times in the Bible—quite the opposite actually. We are told that we will face troubles of many kinds, but instead of that being a simple, terrible reality we just have to accept, we are able to cling to hope that God can and will reweave our stories.

No matter how bad it gets, suffering is never meaningless in the midst of the Lord. He is capable of taking our suffering and turning it to something beautiful somehow. There’s a lot of mystery around that fact, but watch and see if God doesn’t take your troubles and turn them on their head for the good. That is something we can take great hope in.