My eyes crack open, and I realize I’m awake. Still half-asleep, I barely move and take a moment to orient my mind and body. I notice the familiar weight on my chest. Sighing, I attempt to stretch away the sadness. I miss you, Mama. Six long months — if possible it hurts even more now than it did then. More uninvited words hammer away at my mind: chronic mental disorder, severe, co-morbid. I feel fragile, weak, helpless to help. I forcefully push them away, but my senses are keenly aware of the lingering dark. There’s not even a hint of the dawn to come. I sigh again and remind myself — But it will come. So I stumble my way to the kitchen, met by the comforting light of my coffee pot. Warm, dark liquid awaits. In moments, I pour a steaming cup, grip it in one hand, then drape a cozy blanket around my shoulders with the other. Too cold for bare feet, I slip into fuzzy socks and pull on my farm boots. It’s time.

As I open the door and step onto the porch, cold air nips at my skin. I wince, grip my coffee, and wrap my blanket a little tighter, snuggling into its warmth. It’s not quite cold enough to expect morning frost, but still chilly to my southern bones. My breath appears before me in soft white puffs. I pause and inhale deeply, already appreciating the moments of solitude before me.

Cool, quiet, stillness beckons me forward, and I find my usual spot on the front porch. I wipe sleep from my eyes and gaze into the end of night. Darkness conceals the open pasture before me, but I know it will soon come to life, first with shadows, then with the songs of the morning: a whinny from one pasture over, the steady tug and munch of grass, claimed and swallowed by quiet cows, highway sounds in the distance. Here I await the new day, anticipating the brushstrokes of color and light, knowing, trusting the dawn will come.

A rooster crows in the distance. I hold my breath, waiting. He crows again, and then again. Soon a chorus of neighborhood roosters join his morning song. A thought breaks into my solitude: Joy crows in the morning. I exhale slowly and weep at the reminder. Sorrow has lingered long this night. When will my joy come? I let the solemn tears fall, yet, as the rooster chorus carries on, hope strikes a single chord. It reverberates with song that meets the first moment of light, the first glimmer of dawn.

Then, His strong, familiar voice greets me in the hidden place of my heart, and I recognize a line from an ancient poem:

Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place…? Job 38:12

I let out a long sigh, comforted by His presence, and we continue a conversation we began long ago.
No, Lord. And that is yet another reason why I ever cling to You. 

You are the God who gives orders to the morning.
You are the God who shows the dawn its place.
Give me my orders. Show me my place.

In exchange I give You my worries and despair, my longings and requests, most of all — my thanks. I can let it all rest with the One who commands the morning. Your will and ways surpass my understanding, but so does Your peace. The way You bring wholeness from broken, life from death, hope in the midst of sorrow, joy despite pain — I believe You when You say You are making all things new. There is no peace without and about me, but You surround and astound me; You guard me by Your promises and peace within. You sustain me with hope.


Yes, hope is a miraculous thing. When I fight for joy, and I wrestle for peace, hope endures. Hope anchors. Hope enters the most holy place where the very presence of God dwells (see Hebrews 6:19). It is here I am safe to utter my deepest prayers, ask my hardest questions, and pour out my pain. Hope empowers me to rejoice in suffering, which ultimately produces even more hope (Romans 5:3-5).

Hope acknowledges every hard and broken place and answers every question of my soul.

Are You good? Are You with me? Are You enough? When will the darkness lift? When will my joy come? How long, Oh Lord?

As the sun rises, my cries and questions rise up before You. Joy crows, and light breaks through, piercing the dark before dawn. New mercies begin again, hope anchors my soul with truth:

This is hard and You are good
This is hard and You are with me.
This is hard and You supply all my needs
This is hard and You are my joy.
This is hard and You are my hope.

Hope works its miracle on my broken heart once more, and I resolve to sing Your song again, knowing, trusting my dawn will come:

This is the day You made for me.
I join the roosters’ song.
Rejoice again, be glad in it.
It’s time to awaken the dawn.
I choose to sing — say it, soul!
I raise a broken voice.
Let others hear Your song in me.
Through tears I crow — rejoice!

A note to readers:

A person I love suffers daily from a chronic mental disorder. So much life has been stolen and flipped upside down. Our hearts are tired and broken. Combined with the tragic and traumatic loss of my mother six months ago, and losing my unborn child soon after, compound grief has etched a permanent mark on my soul. Profound wounds lead to prolonged sadness. Yes, it is heavy. I fight relentlessly for joy, though it often feels just beyond my reach.

And I have hope. Grief is not my only companion. My constant is Christ. He is the safe place where I hurl all my hard questions, and He collects all my tears. If I ever wondered if He really is the God near to the brokenhearted, “how I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er.” He is the solid place I land each time I slam myself up against Him. I hurt, and I am held by the heart of God.

Friend, are you hurting? How I pray you know that you, too, are held. If you are a Christ-follower, I urge you all the more to draw near to the God who draws near to you. And if you are not, it would be my deepest honor to introduce you, and at the very least, hear your heart and answer your questions.

Faithful Father, thank You for being our hope in every hard and hurting place! Your strong hand holds us even when we have no strength to hold You — yes, I have reason to rejoice yet again!

Verses for further study:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus…And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7, 19
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it…You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 118:24, 28-29
Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! Psalm 57:8‬


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