Author Sarah Geringer offers people hope for the hard days

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Everyone faces hard days from time to time, and people over 50 are no exception. That’s why I wanted to interview author Sarah Geringer, who wrote “Hope for the Hard Days – 100 Encouraging Devotions.”

At 46, Sarah is not yet near 50, but her advice is applicable to people of all ages.

“For five years, I had been weekly devotions, and had amassed a huge collection of devotionals,” she explained. “The thing people are looking for the most right now is hope. Life has been so difficult post-pandemic. For me, 2022 and 2023 have been some of the hardest years of my life.”

After reviewing all her devotionals, Sarah picked out those that spoke the most about having hope. Then she organized them into 14 different categories.

“People seem to like short-form reads right now, so I wanted to create a devotional that was convenient for people to read even if they were short on time,” she said. “I don’t shy away from the hard stuff and I openly talk about all that I’ve gone through in my books, blog posts and podcast episodes.”

Although Sarah intended the book for her female readers, many men have told her how much they enjoyed the devotionals, too.

“I changed some details and pronouns to make it more applicable to men and women,” she explained.

Interestingly, the cover was designed by Sarah’s 15-year-old daughter who is a burgeoning graphic designer.

“Even though I have a degree in graphic design, she was advising me to use specific fonts and colors so they would appeal to men and women,” said Sarah.

Help for specific struggles

The book has 14 divisions of areas where you need hope. They are:

  • Part 1 — God’s Unchanging Character Gives Us Hope
  • Part 2 — Hope in Spiritual Battles
  • Part 3 — Trusting God Strengthens Our Hope
  • Part 4 — Hope for the Hardest Days
  • Part 5 — Uplifting your Spirit on the Hard Days
  • Part 6 — Overcoming Worry and Weariness on the Hard Days
  • Part 7 — Prioritizing Self Care on the Hard Days
  • Part 8 — Handling Grief on the Hard Days
  • Part 9 — Perspective Shifts for the Hard Days
  • Part 10 — Relationship Adjustments for the Hard Days
  • Part 11 — Choosing Discipline on the Hard Days
  • Part 12 — Being Intentional on the Hard Days
  • Part 13 — Developing Maturity on the Hard Days
  • Part 14 — Cultivating Gratitude on the Hard Days

“I opted to start with God’s unchanging character because, for me, that was the one thing that was constant in all the chaos I was facing,” said Sarah. “God’s character doesn’t change and that’s the best place to start.

“From there I move into territorial battles, especially spiritual warfare. There are a lot of Christians who are either uninformed about spiritual warfare, or are simply skeptical about it.

“I want people to understand we are fighting spiritual battles, not just everyday battles,” she added. “Every day we live is a day closer to the time Jesus promised to come back. I think that’s why the spiritual warfare is intensifying. It could still be decades from now. But, with all the advances in technology and conflicts heating up in the Middle East, there are all kinds of signs pointing to Jesus’ return arriving sooner rather than later.”

Worry and anxiety

Many people suffer from sleep deprivation, which reduces resiliency and leads to more worry and anxiety. Better self-care is a good antidote for that, said Sarah.

“I point that out from a scriptural basis as well as from my own experience as I learn to live that out,” she explained.

Relationship adjustments are another big source of stress and loss of hope.

“If we can be intentional about improving our relationships and have better perspective, based on God’s word, we can really relieve a lot of our anxiety, stress and worry,” said Sarah.

However many people, especially baby boomers, grew up being told they should never speak badly about family members.

“As a Gen Xer, we want authenticity, honesty and openness. Millennials and people in Gen Z want it even more,” Sarah explained. “I challenge people to be more upfront, open and honest when talking to people. That can build some bridges in relationships you have with your adult children as well as your grandchildren. It can also improve relationships with coworkers and even people in your church.

“We need baby boomers to be honest about all the hard stuff they have gone through,” she added. “That way, we are better equipped when we go through hard things ourselves.”

Sarah has a podcast targeted at adult children of divorced parents. She is surprised by the number of listeners who say they really want to hear from older people in order to get a different perspective about life and solving problems.

“The last few sections of the book are about being intentional, disciplined and developing spiritual maturity,” said Sarah. “The final section is about cultivating gratitude because we can still have gratitude, even on the hard days.

“The Bible does not say we should be thankful for hard things going on in our lives,” she added. “But we can be thankful because God is faithful, sovereign and in control. He will walk us through the problems, not around them.”

Relationships are a battleground

Of all the areas the enemy likes to attack, our relationships are the ones he likes to target most frequently. It’s another way to get people isolated, angry and vulnerable.

“Statistics say there are more divorces after 30 and 40 years of marriage than ever before, and that is disconcerting,” said Sarah. “I experienced an unwanted divorce, too. But, we have to trust God’s sovereignty and trust that he can redeem years the locusts have eaten by renewing our hope in him and building us up.”

The key is to become a humble servant to serve people closest to you.

“This is true whether you’re married or single. Building yourself up and focusing on your relationship with Christ can make you a better, more humble servant,” she added.

Sarah pointed to Jesus’ actions the night before he was crucified when he, as the King of Kings, was washing his disciples’ feet and taking on the role of a servant.

“Jesus was submitting himself to his disciples, even though he’s the one we are going to worship for eternity in heaven,” said Sarah. “So being a servant applies not just to husbands and wives, but to any situation where you need to hold hope inside you, no matter what happens. You have to remain a humble person.

“Where God meets us, he doesn’t want to talk to us if we are too arrogant, full of ourselves, and not willing to listen or submit to him,” she explained.

“I had to wrestle with the Pharisee in me. After attending a private, Christian college, I needed to have that worked out of me,” she added. “But, regardless of the season you’re in, it’s never too late to come to God and say, ‘I want a fresh start and I need your help because I can’t do it by myself.’”

Hope builds resiliency

Sarah heard a podcast episode featuring a sermon by Tim Keller, a well-known pastor from New York City who passed away in 2023.

“He said every single civilization in world history put their hope in the world beyond, and it didn’t matter what religion it was,” Sarah explained. “However, since the 20th century, western culture is the first one in history that seems to be living only for today.

“When it comes to thinking about legacy, the Japanese and Chinese cultures were always very reverent toward their ancestors,” she added. “It’s not a Christian worldview, but I think there’s a lot of goodness we can study from the way people revere their ancestors as well as the legacy and traditions their families have passed on.

“Once they die, they know they will be reunited with their ancestors, and that’s the hope they have,” said Sarah. “As Christians in this post-modern worldview we’re living in now, we have to put our minds on what all those other civilizations had before us, and that is our hope lies in the world beyond us.”

It’s important for people, especially Christians, to realize their hope is not just for heaven, but for the world today. We still have hope that God can redeem relationships right now, she noted.

“God can use us as instruments of change in our communities, our churches and even in our own homes. That’s where we need to look,” said Sarah. “I’m being super-honest right now. I need hope for today, next week and next month, not just whenever I get to heaven.

“When I am overwhelmed by headlines, I can go back to devotions and my own rhythms and spiritual disciplines. I had to do that over the past few years which have been, personally, just horrific,” she admitted. “I still prayed, read my Bible and devotional, meditated on God’s word, kept going to church and listening to Christian music.

“Now that I’m starting to come out of the deep valley I’ve been in the last two years, I can look back and say it was one of the smartest things I did as I kept walking and running that path,” said Sarah.

Ironically, even when she didn’t feel like doing those things, those disciplines still worked to tether her to God.

“I know the 80-year-old version of Sarah is going to say, ‘Thank you for doing your cardio exercises every day because it gave me a healthier life,” she explained. “That kept me engaged in greater service to the Lord because I was putting in that faithful time of discipline when I was younger. It’s the same with our spiritual lives. We have to take our daily vitamins and do those rhythms.”

Sarah recommends people read Richard Foster’s book “The Celebration of Discipline.” It’s a contemporary Christian classic that goes into greater detail about the processes and systems for developing stronger disciplines.

“We need to be pouring truth into ourselves to combat the lies, fear and hatred the world is throwing at us every day,” she added.

Routines for a productive day

Sarah’s three dogs ensure she starts every day on time to meet their needs. Then she pours herself a cup of hot tea with honey.

“It’s very good for you, by the way, and I drink decaf so it’s not for the caffeine, but for setting the mood,” she explained. “I typically do my devotions while I’m eating breakfast.”

For the past 18 years, she adopted a Bible study routine. Her favorite was the One Year Bible where she would read a chapter or two and meditate on that scripture.

“Dave Ramsey said if you do anything long enough, you’re going to get bored,” said Sarah. “That was freeing to me because, honestly, I felt guilty about being bored with Bible reading. So I started reading from different translations and that helped.

“But, I also love doing devotionals and my favorite in the last couple of years has been reading ‘Restoration Year’ by John Eldredge,” she explained. “It’s about hope for now and for the kingdom to come. The devotional is based on his book ‘All Things New,’ which is one of my all-time favorite books.”

This year, Sarah started reading “Money Morning Meditations” to help her prioritize financial goals for the year. But, she also reads “The One Year Christian History,” which describes the lives of famous Christians.

“I’m getting ready for heaven so that I can have some great conversations with all these people,” she explained.

Sarah uses a walking desk, which is a treadmill that goes under a raised desk. That enables her to do slow-burn cardio exercises for 45 to 60 minutes a day. She also tries to walk daily and lift free weights.

“Once you get past 40, just doing cardio exercises doesn’t cut it, so I need to do weight training and eat healthy, too,” she explained.

“It all really matters because it ties together our mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and relational health,” said Sarah. “I hope I don’t discourage anyone because it took a long time for me to develop the rhythm.

“Just do something and keep doing it. Even if you get off track, get back on track the next day rather than claiming the week is ruined because you had four slices of pizza for dinner,” she explained.

Sarah also loves taking 20- to 30-minute naps at least five days a week to recharge and reset.

“All of these things are essential for my overall well-being,” she explained. “I also love to read and generally complete 100 books a year as part of my reading and journaling process.”

Sarah limits her news intake to local news daily, but reads the Sunday paper every week.

“I limit myself on purpose because I can get really, really worried about all the things happening around the world,” she explained. “So, I leave my news consumption for Sundays after I have spent some time with God.

“I’ll read the opinion articles and world news because they describe things I can pray about rather than worry about,” she added. “Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’

“So, I am actually following a biblical directive when I do that,” said Sarah. “It gives me greater peace because I don’t think people should be completely unaware of what’s going on in the world. But, reading the newspaper once a week is enough for me.”

A passion for seasoned citizens

Sarah is the oldest great-grandchild in her family as well as the oldest grandchild. Because her grandparents helped to raise her after Sarah’s parents were divorced, she has treasured memories with them. Her relationship with them instilled a love for being around seasoned citizens.

“I inherited my great grandma’s photographic memory,” said Sarah. “I have many, many memories about going to the farm and enjoying that slower pace in life. My grandparents are people of faith who walked out their faith and made a huge impression on my life.”

Sarah is a frequent contributor to “Hope-Full Living,” a quarterly large-print devotional written for seniors.

“I have local senior adults come up to me all the time to say they saw the devotion I wrote,” she explained. “I always felt very comfortable with older people in my life because I was around them so much when I was a kid.”

Called to write books

Sarah felt called to start writing books when she was 16 years old and attending a James Taylor concert in St. Louis.

“As a teenager, I was often depressed and his songs really soothed and comforted me,” she explained. “I listened to his greatest hits CD every night.

“At that summer concert, we were sitting in an outdoor amphitheater under a full moon when James started singing ‘Fire and Rain,’ which is a song about loss,” said Sarah. “In my spirit, I very clearly felt the Holy Spirit say, ‘You will be a writer.’ The Holy Spirit was telling me that I would do similar things in my life’s work someday.”

Being a professional writer is a tough, competitive industry to be in, and it’s difficult to be successful enough to make a living at it, she explained.

“Then, when you’re a Christian writer, you’re going to face constant spiritual warfare because you are promoting God’s kingdom through your work,” said Sarah.

She did not start writing publicly until 2010 when she started blogging. Then Sarah started self-publishing in 2016, and her first traditionally-published book was released in 2019.

“It took a long time. When I would get discouraged and wanted to give up, I would remember that experience sitting on the hillside in St. Louis in 1994,” she explained. “I remember the promise God spoke over me and it was very much like he did to Abraham.

“It took almost 25 years for that vision to manifest. But, because I knew the Lord had chosen me for this purpose, it was something I could reflect upon,” she added. “I knew if God said this, then I have to do my part, like Jesus described in his parable of the five talents.”

Chronicled in Matthew 25:14-30, it describes a rich man who went on a journey and entrusted his wealth to his servants. He gave one servant five talents, two to another, and the third servant received a single talent.

When the man returned, he discovered the servants entrusted with five and two talents had doubled the wealth, and he commended them for their faithfulness. But, he condemned the servant who hid his one talent and did nothing with it.

“I’ve always felt like I was the five-talent person,” said  Sarah. “I knew the Lord didn’t give me my talent for my own benefit, but he expected me to do something with it. The way we invest our talent as writers is by helping other people through educating them or entertaining them to lift their spirits.

“God has given you talents that you’re meant to invest in the lives of other people. That was on the other side of his promise to me,” she explained. “I knew God would not just drop an opportunity out of the sky. I had to work with him to bear fruit, and that would take a lot of time, effort, practice and plain old hard work.

“I wanted to be a writer since I was 13 when my teacher told me my writing was fun to read,” said Sarah. “Now I am living my dream, and that’s a really good feeling.”

The importance of sunflowers

Sarah’s brand includes images of sunflowers because they represent something special to her that goes beyond just looking good sitting in a vase on the table.

“I love gardening and growing sunflowers every year. It’s probably my No. 1 hobby besides creating art,” she explained. “Sunflowers follow the sun with their faces, and they are one of the few flowers that do that every day.

“When they are fully mature, sunflowers droop their heads because they are so heavy and full of seeds,” she added. “When that happens, I need to hurry up and get them from my garden because the birds will pick them clean.

“Sunflowers grow in average soil and don’t need a lot of nutrients, yet they become one of the tallest flowers in the garden and they feed more animals than any other type of flower,” Sarah explained.

“Going back to the parable of the talents, I know I’m growing in less-than-perfect conditions, but I also know God can raise me up,” she said. “He can make me a benefactor to other people through my service to them.”

Advice for people over 50

One of Sarah’s favorite books is “The Emotionally Healthy Leader,” by Peter Scazzero. It shows people how transforming their inner life works to deeply transform their church, team and world.

“He said our 60s and 70s can be our most productive and satisfying years, and that fascinated me,” said Sarah. “He explained that at that age, people are finished raising their kids, done helping their aging parents and are often more financially secure. Their health is still good enough to enjoy life and be productive.

“He challenges people at that stage of life to not just use their time for playing golf, traveling and indulging in whatever our culture says we should because we deserve it,” she explained. “We should use the energy, wisdom and resources that we have to reinvest back into people.

“So, you start a podcast, write a book, get involved in ministry at your church, host a Bible study in your home or go on a missions trip,” said Sarah. “There are endless possibilities in our community right now. Volunteer to read with children at a local school, or take training to hold newborn babies in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“There are so many things we can do to bless younger generations,” she explained. “As a younger person, I need that and want it from older adults. I want their wisdom, support, camaraderie and friendship because they have so much to offer.

“Your later years can actually be your golden years by offering the goodness of yourself to other people, if that’s what you choose to do with your time,” she said.

Sarah’s grandmother is 85 years old and home-bound at this stage. She moved away from the family farm 18 months ago and now needs someone to drive her to appointments.

“It would be easy for her to feel useless, right?” Sarah asked. “But, she spends hours every day talking to other widows on the phone just listening to them and praying for them.

“I tell my grandmother all the time that she is probably doing a more important ministry than I do as a public figure,” she explained. “She has six to 10 ladies she supports every day. I know that is a holy and sacred ministry. She has all kinds of time to pray – more time to pray than I do, and I know how important prayer is at this time in history.

“As long as you are breathing, God has a plan for you,” said Sarah. “Even if you can’t speak with your lips anymore, you can still move mountains by saying prayers in your mind.”

People can connect with Sara by visiting There, she has links to multiple social media platforms on which she is regularly active. People can also sign up for her twice-monthly “Tea on Tuesdays” newsletter which provides encouragement and regular updates on Sarah’s ministry.