At 23 years old – Making it to the final four of CBS’ Survivor the Australian Outback was something I never expected. Thirty-nine days in the wilderness brought me to a place of weakness, and ultimately made me answer the question: “Do I trust God in the dark?”
In a place where crocodiles came out at night, nine out of the ten deadliest snakes in the world resided, and spiders were just about everywhere—Do I trust God in the dark?
In the uncertain terrain, amidst uncertain tasks, with uncertain tangible provisions, and surrounded by an uncertain and ever-changing environment—Do I really trust that God in the dark?
In the dark… is where God builds trust.
Sometimes the dark has been a long Australian night, with wet socks and a cold hard ground. Sometimes the dark has been the waiting through the first four years of our marriage for our first baby to be born. Other times, the dark has been a knock at the door, when the producer of The View and an ABC executive informed me that they were not renewing my contract. That my decade long job was no longer… mine.
A moment – being fired- that felt dark enough that even the bright lights of my office made it hard to see and find my inhaler. A moment that enveloped me with shock, asthma, and betrayal all stealing my wind, and my ability to see what could be next.
Yet even in the dark- God allowed some light.
“I’m really thankful for all the years here.”
Gratitude. Like a flashlight in the dark.
I remember feeling thankful. Then confusion. “Why? What could I have done? Was there something I could have done differently? Can I do something differently now? If you would just tell me, I would work on that—and make it better.”
I would have done just about anything to get my job back.
I sat alone in my office for about an hour and a half sobbing, just sobbing. Feeling a dose of betrayal and a whopper of confusion, I felt like the walls of the building were folding in on me. More dark. Why would God let me be here just to fail?? Or just to work so hard to have it taken away?
Perhaps what hit me hardest was this truth: It is almost always impossible to get back what is not yours to begin with.
The day I heard that The View would not renew my contract, my career world fell apart, and it fell apart because it was mine. That was the problem. It was not all mine, but it certainly was not all His yet. That would require surrender. And surrender was not something I knew how to do yet.
God used that time after The View released me to instruct me in not alliance (reliance on others) and in not me-liance (reliance on myself) but in total reliance on Him. Even in the dark.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
All circumstances? I asked myself. Yes, that is what God was instructing. So I gave it a try. I prayed—deeply. I prayed thanks, thanking God for the chance to work at The View, thanking Him for His provision, thanking Him in advance for the next job He would have for me, praying again that I could keep going into work as long as He wanted me in that building, and asking Him to help me stay joyful even in the midst of a storm.
He was my portion. The idea of daily bread became impressed upon my heart. God, give me just enough to get through this day. But not so much that I don’t need You.
He did just that. Because He is my enough.
When I walked through the halls of ABC with my head down, God lifted it up and held it high. Psalm 3:3 became so real to me: “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”
But at home, our kids saw a mommy who was sad, confused, disappointed, and rejected.
But they did not see me dejected.
What is clear to me now is that in those moments of weakness, my kids were able to see resilience in me and to realize that things don’t always go your way. In the weeks that followed, they witnessed me choose to trust that God was working for me, even when I had no work. Even when it felt dim. And when the answer to prayer seemed like a “no”. They saw Mommy choose to see things through a thankful lens when I could, and they saw how that got me through this time. And over time, they saw me move from being fired to being inspired. We learned together that leaving well requires an attitude of gratitude. That gratitude brought into sight the “good” in goodbye.
The lesson of recovering well from losing my seat on The View was valuable not only for me, but also for our kids. They got a front row seat to see how we can respond when difficult times come. After all, if we as adults are trying to trust God in the dark, certainly the kids in this world are, too.
After some time, it became clear to me that our family needed a place to let out our worries hopes and fears—in an adventure of hope! A sweet young friend named Caroline, asked me one day if I wanted to see her wall. We climbed some steps up to her family prayer wall – and through her courage to show me her wall- I made one in our home! For our family we began using flashlights to go back to our thoughts and hopes and prayers and names on the wall and shine our “flashlight on” where we see God working, and click our “flashlight off” where we don’t see God working, but trust Him in the waiting. Saying this out loud reaffirms that we do not always get to see- but we always can trust because God is always there!
Whether you are a mom or dad or aunt or uncle or big sister or brother or cousin or friend to a little one, those kids are growing up, and their eyes are on us. They’re watching to see how we handle the dark. How real we can be with God.
Flashlight Night: An Adventure in Trusting God invites kids to join in the fun of sharing all that is on their hearts—on a wall or on the inside cover of this book—an adventure that lets us be honest with God and say-
“Sometimes we see God’s yes, and other times we don’t, but just because it has not happened doesn’t mean it won’t.”
What if the best way we can love the little ones in our lives who carry big worries is to give them a place to be real with God.
What if this adventure in trusting God opened the door for real conversations and allowed us to see what is on their little hearts? And what if they saw us waiting and trusting in the dark, too?
Our prayer is that Flashlight Night will be a story your special little ones absolutely love and that it will offer a way of giving their worries up to God even when it feels dark—trusting that He is there, even in the waiting.
We hope that Flashlight Night makes hope fun and teaches that trust and adventure are worth taking for the hearts of the little ones you love!
Elisabeth Hasselbeck is a Daytime Emmy Award winner and former cohost with The View and Fox & Friends. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller The G-Free Diet, the gluten-free cookbook Deliciously G-Free, and Point of View: A Fresh Look at Work, Faith, and Freedom, as well as the creator of NoGii all-natural, gluten-free protein bars. She and her husband, ESPN/NFL correspondent and former NFL quarterback Tim Hasselbeck, live in Nashville, Tennessee, with their three children, Grace, Taylor, and Isaiah.
Flashlight Night reminds children and parents that we don’t have to hope alone. Our kids don’t have to keep their worries inside and carry them around all day. It’s ok to be honest with God about where we don’t see Him working – but trust that He is.
Follow Elisabeth on Instagram @elisabethhasselbeck