A person without hope is the saddest person in the world. I know, for I’ve been on the doorstep of that bleak house. In the mid-1990’s, I battled with severe depression. I experienced the terrible blackness that descends when it appears that there is no tomorrow, no reason for a new day to dawn. For several months at that time, I awakened each morning with an awful sense of futility shrouding every thought. The question – ‘why go on living? was never far from my conscious thoughts. There were two faint glimmers of light that flickered into that dark time – the promises of God and the love of my family. I clung, desperately to the truth of Scripture, though a part of my mind insisted that I was unworthy – that others might experience His loving grace – but not me. My family held onto me, loving me when I was silent, patiently waiting for their husband and father to reappear. Who knows the ‘why’ of depression? Was it brain chemicals out of balance, spiritual attacks waged to destroy me, or the result of disappointment in life? Probably there is some combination of those factors, but I experienced it as a time of almost total loss of hope. And, I thank God for allowing me to walk that road, for it changed me for the better, in every way.
It need not be clinical depression that causes the loss of hope. Chronic illness, accumulated disappointments in life, financial ruin, rejection of those we love – are but a few reasons that hope fades, replaced with resignation and/or despair. For the Believer, however, the great hope of life is set outside of this world, beyond the circumstances of the moment. Peter writes this amazingly wonderful passage of promise. Read it thoughtfully – “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:3-7, NIV)
The promise of eternal life, of a glorious existence in the Presence of God, is our living hope! This hope cannot be stolen from us for we are protected by the strength of God, which we own now by faith. “Yes,” Peter, acknowledges, “there will be grief and trials along the way. But even these are reasons for hopefulness. They are refining our relationship with Jesus and causing those who see us standing strong to realize that Jesus Christ is worthy of praise!” Out of this gift of faith, comes an amazing result. “Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.” (1 Peter 1:8, NLT) Believer, when we set our hope on Heaven, when we make success in life, money, safety, health, and reputation secondary to faith in Jesus Christ – real joy grows in our hearts. Paul overcame the difficulties of his life with this quality of faith. He declared, “If God is on our side, can anyone be against us? God did not keep back his own Son, but he gave him for us. If God did this, won’t he freely give us everything else?” (Romans 8:31-32, CEV)
Are you fighting with despair? Are you attempting to soothe the ache in your heart with something of this earth – sex, food, pleasure, diversion? These things can be fun – for a moment. Sin is gratifying at the time in which we plunge into it. But, ultimately, sin only deepens despair! When the music goes silent, when we sober up, when the affair is over – shame and guilt come to collect their terrible payment.
Believer, seek God!
Make the choice that Moses made – “He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.” (Hebrews 11:25-26, NLT)
Learn from the Lord Jesus “who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! “ (Hebrews 12:2-3, The Message)
May you find a living hope through faith.