Moving Forward from Hopelessness

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Our world is fashioned with fears of economic collapse, pandemics, wars, global warming, extreme rioting and natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes. There are those who at times just want to crawl into a corner and curl up in the fetal position. Others may not be quite ready to do just that, but some will admit that they have lost hope. If we add the above to the personal trials of everyday existence―a confrontational divorce, a pending lawsuit, trying to find work because of a job loss, or facing the uncertainty of an illness for ourselves or a loved one – it can be quite overwhelming.  it’s no wonder so many people struggle with an increasing sense of hopelessness, even to the point of despair. When fear grips us, it disables us from moving forward.  When a crisis hits, you have to do the smart things necessary to get through it. You listen to helpful advice from others whom you respect, you make good choices, and you should affirm that this too will pass. Soon enough you will marvel at all that God did in the midst of this trouble, as you are able look at it from the other side.

We can learn much from King David and how he responded to news of the impending death of his illegitimate child. “David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground. The elders of his household pleaded with him to get up and eat with them, but he refused” (2 Samuel 12:16-17). Seven days later, the child died, but the attendants were afraid to tell David for they were concerned that he might do something out of desperation. When David was told that the child had passed, he “got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions, and changed his clothes. He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the LORD. After that, he returned to the palace and was served food and ate. Then his servants said to him, ‘What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.’ David replied, ‘I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, Perhaps the LORD will be gracious to me and let the child live. But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me” (2 Samuel 12:20-23). David understood it was time to move forward. Soon he was blessed with another son, and “they named him Solomon. The LORD loved him” (2 Samuel 12:24).

The apostle Paul wrote, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair” (2 Corinthians 4:8). Paul suffered many hardships yet not hopelessness, because, like David, his hope was not based on earthly circumstances. He held on to the knowledge that God was ultimately in control of it all. The word hope in English often conveys doubt. For instance, “I hope it will not rain tomorrow.” Or it may be used as a response that one might give when asked if they think that they will go to heaven when they die. They say, “I hope so.”  For the Christian – Biblical hope is a reality and not a feeling. Biblical hope carries no doubt. Biblical hope is a sure foundation upon which we base our lives, believing that God always keeps His promises. Followers of Christ never lose sight of hope, because “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

At one time or another, we will all find ourselves in a situation that seems to be hopeless. For those who know Jesus as their Savior, it’s an opportunity for God to call us closer to Him. We don’t have to think all is lost because we cannot control the circumstances. Instead we can learn to trust the One who controls all things. Therefore “do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).  Hope is a confident expectation that God will do what He has promised. Either you can move forward with the rest of your life, or the world as we know it may come to an end.  In either case, Jesus will be there if you believe in Him. So wait patiently, and be established in hope. Things are going to get better – much better!         

REFLECTION: What feels uncertain in your world today? Have you sometimes felt hopeless during times of crisis? What would it take to restore your hope? How can you implement God’s solutions for hopelessness and despair? How will respond to someone in your life who needs encouragement?

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