Is Hope Lost?
There are so many experiences in life that can cause us to drift toward that thought process. They can cause us to loose any semblance of hope in all the chaos of life.
Loss of hope and the setting in of despair takes different forms. Sometimes it comes through a barrage of difficult circumstances. Maybe you have lost your job and your house in the same short period of time. Maybe you have experienced multiple losses of loved ones or loved things. Or, maybe you have only experienced one major disappointment. People loose hope for all kinds of reasons. The reasons almost always involves some degree of suffering.
Despair is defined as the complete loss or absence of hope. People respond to despair in many different ways. You see it in the news or on the internet all the time. I have the unfortunate opportunity to see it in patients on the job at the hospital often as well.
Sometimes it comes in the form of sadness over sickness and disease. Other times it comes in the form of clinical depression over any number of life's challenges. Granted clinical depression is sometimes rooted in chemical imbalances and then set off by a particular circumstance, though not always. Still other times despair shows itself in it's most desperate form, death. Most often self-inflicted in the form of suicide by any number of methods. Yet, sometimes it is in the form of murder or murder-suicide.
Yes, I am painting a dark picture, but this is the reality of it. People often live in a dark fog that nobody can see or experience but that person. They need help and they don't know where to find it. Even those of us who are well balanced and have a faith-based hope, struggle with the daily grind, personal loss and the ever evolving and often horrifying news occurring around the world.
Where Is Hope?
So where is hope to be found in the midst of such dark, depressing realities. Doctors prescribe medicines which are sometimes helpful, but often become enslaving themselves. Don't misunderstand me, I am not opposed to clinical evaluations and interventions. They however, are not the defining and ultimate answer to the problem of despair.
There is but one answer. There is but one hope. That hope is found in the person of Jesus Christ! Scripture calls Him the "Blessed Hope"(Titus 2:13) and "the hope of Glory"(Colossians 1:27).
I have been burdened of late as I have seen sad story after sad story in people's lives via Facebook, the news, and in real life. 2014 was a very difficult year for many, including my own life and the life of my family. I wanted to try to give some encouragement by providing at least some of the scriptures that can be stood upon or bathed in when the need arises. But let me caution us not to wait until things get tough to begin meditating on and devouring God's word into our souls. Make no mistake, we are in a fight. Satan wants to steal everything that is ours in Christ Jesus.
Many things can cause us to need a grieving period in order to move past a loss. At no point am I suggesting that grief should not happen or that it should look a certain way. Grieving is necessary and healthy. What we must not do is loose hope or trust in God's sovereign goodness through our grief. Unfortunately to often, even as believers, we do not have a basis of hope to support us through that process. If we take in God's word prior to the rough spots, then the foundation of hope will be laid to build your grief upon without slipping into the depths of despair.
Words of Hope
There is scripture after scripture speaking to where our hope is found and what we can do with all of our cares. Here are a few. I pray they help.
The Psalms are laden with grief and hope. I could list endless Psalms in this discussion. Psalm 23 is however, one of the best known and often memorized. Psalm 23:4 specifically states, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."
1 Peter 5:5-11
Though written in a context of pastoral exhortation, it still applies to all of us as believers who are under pastoral care. It is a word of warning regarding the dangers of the enemy. It calls us to humility in all things and to remembrance that, no matter what we are going through, we are not alone. There are others that have been through the same struggles you are going through. God is faithful to see us through, restore, and comfort us. 1 Peter 5:7 & Psalm 55:22 are very similar in this.
Isaiah is often referred to as the fifth gospel. The fourtieth chapter is of the exaltation of the glory and sovereignty of God. Much of the well known Handel's Messiah is drawn from that chapter. However, Isaiah 40:27-31 is a very well known portion of encouragement for those who may think that God has forgotten them. For those who wait upon Him, he is always there, interested in what is going on, and carrying us along.
"Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in hear, and you will find rest fro your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
While this could be broken down and looked at more closely, it also pretty much speaks for itself.
Many of you will recognize pieces of this passage as well. They have been quoted and used in song lyrics extensively. Bear in mind that most of the passage is a listing of the reasons that the author has hope.
"But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to and end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him."
Psalm 30:2, 5c, & 11-12
Psalm 30:2- "O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me"
Psalm 30:5c- "Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning"
Psalm 30:11-12- "You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
This one is the culmination of all scriptures having to do with hope! That moment when all things are made new and sin reigns no more.
Where Will You Find Your Hope
As you can see there is a lot of hope to be found in the scriptures. That hope finds it's genesis and culmination in Jesus Christ. If you do not have a relationship with the Father through the Son, this hope will not be available to you. Today can be the day that you find hope like you have never known. You will die to yourself and begin living for Jesus. In so doing, you will find life like you have never known. So look to Jesus. Surrender your life to the only one whom can give you life everlasting.
If you are a Christian but not living a life of surrender to your Lord and Savior then you are missing out on much of the hope that is available. In order to experience the fullness of hope that is found in the scriptures we must read the scriptures and live in an attitude of communion with God including intentional times of prayer.
I think one of the best verses that makes clear instruction in this direction is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. It states, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
If we will just apply these practices, HOPE will abound!
May it be so in you life and mine.
In Jesus name.