Amelia was a young woman who loved and trusted Jesus with all her heart. Usually she found strength and joy in their friendship. But lately she’d been having a hard time. She’d lost her job, her boyfriend had broken up with her, and a family member she loved very much had passed away. She felt sad and lost—something she had never experienced before. Why are all these things happening to me? she wondered.
One night Amelia sat on her bed, tears rolling down her cheeks. She needed help and hope. She noticed her Bible sitting on her nightstand, and, picking it up, she opened it to a random page, praying to find some encouragement. Her eyes landed on Jeremiah 29:11: “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ ” (NIV). As her finger traced the words, she smiled through her tears. That verse was just what she needed. It told her that God understood what she was going through and that even when life was hard, He had a plan for her, a plan that included a future full of hope.
Amelia kept reading. She turned to Genesis and read the story of Joseph. He had had a very hard life! His brothers had treated him badly and even sold him as a slave. Later he had been put in jail for something he hadn’t done! But he had never lost faith in God’s plan for him. Through some amazing miracles, Joseph had been made the second-highest governor over all of Egypt and had saved the whole country. Amelia could see that even in really hard times, God would be with her, shaping and preparing her for something good she couldn’t see yet.
As Amelia snuggled down into her blankets that night, she thanked God that she had the promise of hope to hold on to. He would never leave her to struggle alone.
The following week Amelia joined a Bible study group at her church with other people who had faced tough times. They talked about their struggles and how they found strength in Jesus. Someone read Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV). Even though it was hard to understand, Amelia knew that somehow God would bring something good out of what she was going through.
Life wasn’t easy. Some days were really hard, and Amelia still felt sad, even though she knew God was with her. One day she read about a woman in the Bible who had tried to find happiness in the wrong places, but Jesus had offered her something that would make her truly happy forever. After talking with Jesus, the woman had been so excited that she had run and told all of her friends about Him—how He had known everything about her but cared for her just the same. The woman’s life had been completely changed. This gave Amelia an idea.
She started volunteering at a shelter for homeless women and girls. She played games with them, made food for them, took them shopping, and led out in a weekly Bible study. As she shared her own story of hard times, she told them about the strength she was finding in her friendship with Jesus. Second Corinthians 1:3, 4 became her favorite Bible verse: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is the Father who is full of mercy. And he is the God of all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble, so that we can comfort others when they have trouble. We can comfort them with the same comfort that God gives us” (ICB).*
Amelia discovered that while she was helping others, she didn’t feel so sad! Maybe this was the “good” that Romans 8:28 had promised, or maybe it was having something to share with the women and girls at the shelter.
Amelia kept seeking God’s guidance in her life. She found a text in Isaiah 43 that said, “Don’t be afraid, because I have saved you. I have called you by name, and you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you cross rivers, you will not drown. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned. The flames will not hurt you’” (verses 1, 2, ICB). She found comfort in those words. No matter what hard times she faced, she knew whom she could count on. Her sadness was turned to joy in helping others; her discouragement was turned into determination; and that little whisper of doubt in her mind was turned into unshakable faith because she had found her strength and identity in Jesus. She was a child of God, loved and cherished beyond measure.