Go Ahead And Have Hope in The Hard Days

Go Ahead And Have Hope in The Hard Days -christyfitzwater.com

You know what I was doing at 4:45 last evening? Setting the flameless candles. At 2:30 I rushed home from school, changed into work clothes, and started pulling Christmas boxes out of the crawl space. (By the way, I took two ibuprofen before going to bed, because it’s not smart to go from watching hours of Hallmark movies for a week to doing squats for an hour under the house.)

After pulling down all of the decorations on the hutch and above the row of upper cabinets in the kitchen, I carefully arranged lanterns, miniature sparkly trees, an old pair of black ice skates, and the nativity scene. Then it came time to turn on the battery-operated candles mom had given me in October.

Mom is the master of lighting. In the evening at her house, ambient lighting and candles magically come on by timer and warm every possible space in the house.

But do you know why I set my new candles to come on at 4:45 every night at our house? Because that’s when it gets dark.

Kalispell, Montana –one hour south of the Canadian border. We have short days. My Texas friends might truly enjoy their Christmas decorations, with all of the candles and Christmas tree lights, but we need the lights. Because at 5:00, for a few months of the year, we kind of feel like we should be putting on our pajamas –except we still have hours of evening left to live and haven’t even eaten dinner yet. The tree lights and candles mean more to us in the north, because it’s so dark for so long. The dark pulls down at your energy to live.

Let’s talk about long darkness and dead of winter, then. Because as I was thinking about how precious the Christmas lighting is for us northerners, I was also thinking about the real darkness pulling down on people I love.

The friend I talked to who is at anniversary number one of burying her husband last year.

The cousin who shopped for housing on Black Friday, because she lost everything but her life in the Paradise, California fire.

My own family who is figuring out how to do Christmas around the hole left when my aunt went to be with Jesus.

Matt and I and my mother-in-law and her sister sat down with mugs of hot chocolate at about 8:30 last night, with all of the house lights off, so that we could enjoy the Christmas tree lights and candles for the first time. During our short days of winter, we’ll have all of these warm lights filling the great, long darkness of evening.

This is for our souls, too:

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.  (Isaiah 9:2 NIV)

Life is Montana in winter.

It’s dark here, and it’s dark for a long time. We can feel the shadow of death at every turn, but we’ve seen a great light. I think, though, that we have to choose to “set” the light of Christ, the way I set my flameless candles. When we’re grieving or going through a really hard time (or both), we purposefully have to open our Bibles and reach out for the Light. We worship, and the great light warms every possible space in our minds and hearts.

So if you feel like all is dark in your life, do something about it. Maybe work hard enough in your spiritual life to need ibuprofen. Worship the Lord and give him an open door to bring you hope and peace and help.


  1. Christy,
    My family too lost our homes to the fire in Paradise, CA. Perhaps I know your cousin. We have called Paradise home for 32 years, raised our three children there, and two of them and their families lost their homes as well. We too are scrambling for temporary housing, even as far removed as the north coast and Bay Area. We are still somewhat in shock. I haven’t been back to see the devastation since the day I had 20-some minutes to get my elderly mother and my dog out. We see the images on tv and online and we still can’t wrap our minds around the fact that our community, our neighborhoods, our churches, and yes, some of our neighbors and friends are simply no more. I’m not sure if we ever will.
    Life we know is temporary. This world is not our home, Praise God. But for us, it has gone from beauty and comfort to terror and ashes in the blink of an eye. We are humbled to be on the receiving end of disaster relief for the first time in our lives. We have had the love of complete strangers to bless us. But we are grieving and feeling lost inside. Many of us have chronic illnesses which are exacerbated by stress. Please, pray that we might be held up by the supernatural strength only the Father can give. We need many things, but right now we need His strength to prevail. ?

    1. Claudia, I’m crying at my computer. I’m so very, very sorry you lost everything! Janet Kimes is the cousin I was talking about. There are other family members who lost everything, too. Believe me, we have been watching all of this in shock and weeping for all of you. I thank God you made it out alive -how absolutely terrifying! This certainly has made me look at everything in my life differently. I cried going into work after the fires, because I’m a teacher and was thinking of all of the professionals who lost not only homes but jobs and everything they had worked to build. So hard! Well, I pray the Lord will surprise you at every turn with his comfort and provision. May you celebrate his faithfulness after you’ve walked through this literal fire. Huge hugs to you from Montana.

      1. Our eldest daughter is the principal of a long planned for, much awaited, just-opened-this-fall, charter high school that burned as well. Achieve Charter High School. The challenge for the entire district is huge, but they are plowing through it and hope to open next week in facilities in Chico. Most if not all teachers lost their homes, but they are an amazing group, many believers. We know Christ’s promises to us and we cling to them with all our might. I didn’t know your cousin, but my heart goes out to her and her family. God bless your entire family?

        1. Oh man. Would you just give her a big hug and all of my sympathy! What an amazing opportunity for all of you. I pray the Lord will help you shine with hope and joy that only God’s Spirit can give. May he give you a boatload of opportunities to share why you still have hope in the middle of all of this. I wish I could just bring you all a chocolate cake and cold glasses of milk right now!!!

  2. Sharon Smith says:

    Yes, that first Thanksgiving, that First Christmas – they were so hard when my parents went to Heaven, but a hundred times harder when you have lost your husband just 3 months earlier – your best friend, the love of your life, your heart. But God is faithful and the light of His love still shines through. While they were trying to revive my husband, God gave me a peace. I knew he wasn’t going to make it but I also knew that he was walking with Jesus. And God has shown me how in the last year, He was preparing both of us for that day. So much more to say, but the Light and Love of Jesus is guiding my every step and I know He has a plan for me that will honor Him and not let my husband’s passing go in vain.

    1. Sharon, so hard! Thank you for sharing your store. I hope other people who read this post today will be encouraged by how God is loving and caring for you through the most painful or circumstances. And I pray the Lord will continue to encourage you and help you feel his love!

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