Amanda Varty was diagnosed with a chronic illness and lay confined to a bed in a darkened room for nine years. Usually too weak to go to church, one Sunday she felt compelled to ask her husband to take her to a service. As Amanda worshiped God, she felt strengthened in her body, but weakness returned when she went home.

Throughout her illness, Amanda had dreamed she would one day dance again. To her, dancing was everything that being bedbound wasn’t—a celebration of life and energy and joy. For the next several months Amanda returned to church, and as she worshiped one Sunday, she felt a surge of strength rush through her body and she began to dance.

An illness or long-term stress can not only sap our physical and emotional strength, but also risk draining us of all hope. Pain and heartache may threaten to overwhelm us, but as we worship God He rescues us from our despondency (Psalm 30:1). As we cry out to our Creator, He gives us strength and keeps us from sinking into “the pit of death” (Psalm 30:2-3). When our focus shifts to the greatness of our mighty God, we become aware of His everlasting favor toward us (Psalm 30:4-5). Lifting our eyes toward heaven, our journey through long, dark nights of despair can finally, “in the morning,” turn to joy (Psalm 30:5).

Not all suffering is relieved in this life, but be assured that the Lord hears our cry for mercy (Psalm 30:8-10). “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent” (Psalm 30:11-12). As we praise God in the midst of our suffering, our hearts can begin to sing with gratitude. And, in time, we may even find we can dance once more.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: John 13:21-38