Is there any hope left in this storm?

Want to know how I am doing? “I’m doing well,” with a smile on my face, is my usual response. Even with all things considered, most of the time it’s true. But lets be real, as hard as I try to convince the inquiring party of my bliss, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies.

It’s often easy to hide behind wanting to appear tough and full of faith, but the truth is, my body is nearly always uncomfortable these days.

I feel as if there’s a knife penetrating into my left shoulder for most of the day.

I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve been able to get away from home this summer thanks to the intensity of my body spasms caused by the slightest bump in the road.

Mine is the hairy one
Mine is the hairy one

Not only can I not feel my girlfriend’s hand when I hold it, now it’s often “don’t touch me” or it will shoot my body into an intense series of spasmic shaking. (Talk about romantic.)

One of my best friends is getting married soon and I’m frustrated that a 500 mile road trip stands in the way of my presence as the best man by his side on his big day.

Regardless of what I believe, it gets old having to sit through doctor appointments hearing the prognosis of never moving anything below my shoulders again for the rest of my life.

I’m exhausted from waking up in the middle of the night and staring at the ceiling for hours unable to fall back asleep.

It’s hard not to feel like a burden on the people around me, being dependent on them to take care of my every need throughout the day.

I struggle fighting against comparing myself to my peers moving full steam ahead in the post-college world without me.

The icing on the cake is that I’m 25 and live down the hall from my parents. Not quite what I had envisioned growing up.

I know storms can be relative. I’m aware enough to be thankful about what I do have. A loving family. Great friends. A roof over my head. A full stomach at the end of each day. Regardless of how worn down my body may seem, I’ve remained healthy. While that is great to take inventory of, it doesn’t necessarily mask everything. When I think of promises God has made, sometimes they seem so distant and almost too good to be true…especially as time goes on and my body continues to feel worse.

Years ago a ship sailed into a storm in the Mediterranean Sea. The winds were of hurricane force. The crashing waves were daunting. The crew gave up any hope of being saved as their food supply ran dry. A man named Paul stood up, claiming an angel from God had spoken to him ensuring that the group would weather the storm and every life would be spared. He boldly proclaimed, “Keep up your courage men, I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me!” I can imagine his fellow shipmates rolling their eyes whispering among themselves, “Is this guy nuts? Doesn’t he see what’s happening?” Sure enough, soon after speaking this, things did not get better. They got worse.

boat in storm

Often I feel in the midst of that storm. I want to give up. I wonder if God has forgotten me. Was believing he had a promising future for me just a pipe dream? It gets harder and harder as my physical body continues to decline and just causes more discomfort and frustration. It’s easy for the prevailing thought to be, “It doesn’t look like there’s much hope left.”

This was likely what the men on the boat were thinking. They were about to come upon some rocks and the crew was not keen on listening to this man who was waiting on God’s provision. The ship struck a sandbar and began to split into pieces. Panic arose. This man who believed God would save them urged them again not to give up. Soon thereafter daylight came and in the distance they saw a bay with a sandy beach. What seemed impossible was now a reality. Eventually, just as Paul had said, everyone on the boat safely reached the island of Malta just south of Italy. (For the full account of this true story, click here.)

While the situation only seemed to look worse for Paul, he kept his faith while those around him wanted to give up and accept their fate. Am I going to look at the storm around me? Or am I going to focus on the God who is with me in the midst of it? Even in a storm there is still a silver lining. Hope still remains. I still believe I have a great future ahead with a purpose that I could not have imagined just a few years ago.

I want to keep my eyes fixated on God himself rather than my circumstances, believing the daylight and the shore are just around the corner. It may not see always seem like it, but I know he is there. I want my cry to be in tune with the song below, understanding that, “As the thunder roars, I barely hear you whisper through the rain, ‘I’m with you.’”

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Contact info: Ryan.S.Atkins@Gmail.com
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19 thoughts on “Is there any hope left in this storm?

  1. Ryan,

    I don’t know if I can adequately express in these words how much this helped me. It came at exactly the time that I needed to read it. I will read it again and again. You ARE an inspiration! God is doing great works through you. Thank you for being HONEST and for sharing your life with us…”warts and all”. Your courage inspires me. You are not alone! God Bless you and thank you!

  2. After burying my dad on Monday after his murder, your post arrived in my inbox, exactly as God planned through your obedience to minister from where you are, Ryan. Through the storm, it has been our faith and the prayers of the saints on our behalf that has kept us continuing. We never know what this life will hold for us. God has allowed the evil one to roam this earth for a while, but we know that one day, with a shout and the sound of the trumpet, Jesus will return and make everything right again. He is our hope and our future. Thank you, Ryan. You are in our prayers. <3

  3. Ryan,

    Your post is a good word for me today. Felt down and discouraged yesterday. The storm seemed bigger than God but of course it wasn’t. The greater one lives inside us. We just need to keep that our main focus. Thanks for that reminder on just the right day.

    Blessings,

    Jane

  4. Thanks for your honesty, Ryan. I admire it as I know it’s not easy to be an open book (or in this case blog). You’re the kinda guy that I’ve always admired for having it all together- from the moment I met you in 9th grade! Now that I know you better it’s been great to hear what’s going on beneath the surface. There’s not many people I look forward to reading updates from, but you’re one of them and there’s not many people I get inspiration from like I do from you. I hope you are encouraged by knowing that God is using you even when you don’t know he is; it sounds so meaningless to hear that sometimes but a ripple flows well beyond the initial impact a stone makes when it’s dropped into a pond. And I’ve been endlessly inspired and challenged by your life and then seen how God has used me to challenge others. So keep fighting the good fight. Thanks for being so honest and open.

  5. Ryan, you don’t know me, so please don’t think me presumptuous when I comment. I cannot fathom how it feels to be in the midst of the your storm, but I know this; you are serving a huge purpose whether you can feel it always or not. Your faith is incredible. Your writing is honest, open, and inspiring! I am pretty sure that this is not how a regular 25 year old guy would choose to be inspiring and I can imagine that sometimes it feels like the line is dead (this is the way I describe when I know that God is there and listening, but I just can’t feel it.) Your blog touches more people than you know, and I am rooting for you to have some regular old 25 year old guy days!

  6. Your gift to share your journey makes such an impact on me and I am sure many many others would echo the same. You are amazing and I appreciate your honestly, your eloquence and your faithfulness. I am praying for your miracle and for peace amidst the storm and the serenity that comes after the storm passes! What a blessing! Thank you Ryan.

  7. I am reminded of the song, ‘Word of God Speak’ by Merce Me. I just listened to the track four times in a row. The words were written for you! Love you for speaking truth and for your transparency.

    Bob

  8. Thank you for sharing your frustrations. You continue to amaze me at your unending faith in God. Truly an inspiration.

  9. HOPE – it’s a word which carries a whole lot of weight with it. It’s been the topic the last couple of weeks in particular with me and my friends. As I was reading your blog my eyes were welling up with tears. I understand some of your trials. I can relate. And yet, our circumstances are radically different.

    This is going to sound really ridiculous, I am warning you and anyone else who reads it. As I was reading your words, truth, heart, transparency of your struggles I thought ‘what CAN you do?’ And I thought that what Jesus did while here on earth was to TEACH… to speak the truth… to share the good news….to communicate. He had an audience. So do you. Obviously he healed the sick, performed miracles, died for us and rose from the dead. When looking at the majority of the New Testament (believing that it was God breathed / inspired)… it is stories that were spoken and handed down generation upon generation. And those stories compile a book which has LIVED through the storms. Words have power, spoken or written. Right? So what YOU are doing is powerful. I feel sure that you pray about what you share and how you share it. I think that you know me well enough to know that I am not going to say something unless I believe it to be true / real / and encouraging. I am not just blowing smoke.

    I had no idea that your condition was worsening. 🙁 I had no idea that holding your girlfriend’s hand could cause you pain and discomfort. I had no idea that you were now so sensitive to movement that you cannot take a ride in the car and just outside and see the countryside. Ryan… I am so sorry that things are so tough. I am sure you could have listed a whole more. What you’ve said is adequate to get a little glimpse and yet you DO continue to praise God through the storm. I think that is why it is referred to in Hebrews as a ‘SACRIFICE of praise’. Because sometimes, we surely do not FEEL like praising God. (that was a revelation for me recently as I was in some relentless crazy pain which lasted for 10 days or more. that on top of the ‘normal’ level). I have heard it said and I tend to agree that ‘worship is our best weapon of warfare’.

    I have new found hope! Hope that I have not had for a VERY long time. Father God, I pray that this HOPE that you have given to me – real hope – not questions, but answers / solutions you will also give to you beloved son, Ryan! That there will be things or people who you will put on his radar who have some piece of information to give Ryan HOPE. I pray Lord that whatever is causing Ryan all of this increase in pain, muscle spasms, and discomfort would RELEASE it’s grip on Ryan now and not return ever again in the mighty name of Jesus Christ! I thank You Lord that You have promised us an abundant life, full of HOPE and a future! I declare those words, those promises over Ryan now in Jesus name. I thank You Father God for this mighty warrior, strong in faith and love and hope! I ask Holy Spirit to shower Ryan’s nervous system with peace… heaven’s shalom… that nerves would fire when they are supposed to, that they would transmit the proper signal, that you would re-wire things and put them back together – perfectly as you have designed them to be. You are a good and loving Father. We praise You in the storm…. We love You! I ask and declare all of these things in the mighty name of Jesus! AMEN!

    Thanks for keeping it real, buddy! Bless you!

    p.s. I am not even going to proof read anything I wrote. It is what it is. that’s how I roll. 🙂

  10. God speaks through you in miraculous ways! You can’t imagine how much you are doing to help transform other lives as we read and listen to your ongoing amazing story. Your honesty, pain, happy times, dark times….all authentic and pointing to your unwavering faith in Jesus! Thank you for being obedient in such difficult circumstances. You are honoring God as you share the gospel with your story. Will pray often for you!! God bless you, Ryan! I will be coming to find you in eternity! Want to hug my brother in Christ who greatly inspires me. Keep up the good work! :))

  11. Ryan

    You are such an inspiration and role model. I am honored to know you and find your posts a blessing. Your posts help me guide so many patients that are faced with tremendous health challenges. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for your honesty. In Him. Camille Lloyd

  12. Thank you, my dear brother, for keeping it real. God is using you in a mighty way…life is short. eternity is forever. You are laying up massive treasures in heaven for your faithfulness in the midst of great hardship. You speak from a place of authority and deliver hope for the hurting, and the courage to not give up
    I love you, precious bro.
    (still believing and contending for your complete healing THIS side of heaven!!!)

  13. Once again – God’s timing is perfect and you remind me that the story isn’t over and God’s plan is moving forward. Though I do not battle the physical challenges that you face, the battle for the mind seems a universal experience. Taking God at His word and living that out – the way He has called us. Many days, I struggle just to feel comfortable in my own skin, to be content with who God made me to be and not compare myself and my story with that of anyone else. To see the Savior at work and join Him in it – that is my goal each day. That is what you do so well. You bless us all.

  14. I’m Matt’s granny and I love you because Matt does…as well as the rest of the Evans family. I have been reading your blog about any hope left in the storm over, over, and over, and have been praying for you since your accident, like so, so, so many of us have been. This morning I felt the need to write that I can’t think of why the Lord has not done what I have begged him to do for you. My humble prayers are among all the thousands of “great Christians who are much closer to God” than I am, but today I felt like our Savior was telling me that you are a miracle in that you are his modern day Joseph. As a teenager, Joseph lost almost everything…his family, his position as the favored son, his home and his freedom taken from him. You were the leader in personality, grades, sports, and ambition. God wanted you….the best to show that no circumstances,suffering, or loss can separate us from Him or His love. Joseph probably wondered the same things as you …..why the Lord lets the trial and pain continue but he managed to hold fast to his faith….just as you have been able to do! I have no idea what God has planned for you but I know you have a relationship with Him that allows you to glorify Him in miraculous and mighty ways. I cannot fathom how you are doing as well as you do but I do thank God for you and every day my prayer is Romans 8:26-27 for you and your wonderful family!!! I am so thankful for the Joseph in Genesis and for the Ryan in Cinci. I can’t wait to see God’s plans for you. Love…..from Matt’s granny.

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