Everyone has a story. The page-turning details leading up to this moment in time. The past week I’ve shared mine about four different times, which is a lot for me. And though I always feel exposed after telling it, there’s something freeing and redemptive about giving voice to the reality.

Yesterday I spoke with three different woman facing painful circumstances. Before bed, I shared a text message conversation with a teenager facing a crisis in her own story. In the past few days, I’ve talked to a mom of a struggling teenager, a woman in the midst of a divorce, and a handful of others who struggle to hang on. In each of these cases, the messiness of my story gave me the credibility to offer hope. Funny how that works.

For those of you whose stories are tough going right now, I give you Isaiah 61:1-3, three verses given to me by one kind man at a low moment over a decade ago. Hang on to it like it a lifeline, and know in no uncertain terms: You’re story isn’t finished yet. If you don’t have the will to believe it right now, I’ll believe enough for both of us.

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives

and release from darkness for the prisoners,

to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor

and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn,

and provide for those who grieve in Zion–

to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,

the oil of gladness instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,

a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”

~Isaiah 61:1-3