How to Hold on During Hardships

By: Brianna Fattal

I once read that the greatest evidence of faith is seen simply by turning around. That if we look back on our life, the evidence of God’s presence, mercy, love and grace are there like footprints in the sand of time. 

When I lost my younger brother to suicide in 2019, I had a turnaround moment that revealed God’s strength to me. It was in the most difficult time of my life that holding on meant my faith in God was holding me up.

God didn’t orchestrate my brother’s death, but I felt His orchestration immediately after. Amid the pain my family and I were feeling, I could see God in everything—and that awareness of Him told me to hold on. From the moment I learned about my brother’s death on a Sunday morning while I was at Shepherd Church, to the supportive and gracious crew member at the airport the next day ahead of my flight home to the east coast, it helped me hold on.

Proverbs 8:17 says, “I love those who love me, and those who diligently seek me will find me.”

You can’t hold on to something you don’t seek out. When we seek God, God reveals himself to us in many ways. That search is never more intense than when we are experiencing hardship.

I can remember rocking back and forth in my seat the entire plan ride home, silently crying out to God that I can’t do this alone.

Psalm 34:17 says, “When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.”

The opposite of holding on is letting go. God wants you to hold on. Satan wants you to let go.

Holding on isn’t easy, especially when you lose your baby brother. But I sought out God amid the pain, and He revealed Himself to me. His presence brought me peace and comfort. He held me that entire plane ride home; He carried me through the planning of final arrangements; and He’s woken me up and given me the strength to step forward every day since. 

In the Bible, Christianity is referred to as a running race. Victory is not finishing first, but in seeking God when the race (our lives) gets really difficult. God calls that faith.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” - 2 Timothy 4:7

When I turn around, I feel vivid memories of the moment I found out my brother left this earth. I collapsed to the floor. I remember gripping the fibers of the carpet and feeling them under my nails but simultaneously experiencing the feeling of falling—as if through a black hole—with no landing in sight.

What once was a hollowing experience is now a footprint in the sand. It was in that moment God was teaching me—even in the dark that when you can’t see or find your way out, and when hope feels lost—keep holding on.

Today I can smile when I say my brother’s name and share his story, and the only reason I’m able to do that is because I held on. When it felt like there was no ending in sight, I continued to cry out to the only One big enough to take our burdens and engulf us in strength and love, Jesus.