Recently during Sunday school, the teacher Roy Pruett asked if anyone in class had ever felt hopeless. As you would expect, everyone raised a hand. Roy didn’t ask anyone to expound, but for the sake of this column, I will.
I imagine hopelessness as an unwanted visitor who interrupts our lives from time to time. It came to visit me during my latter teenage years, that season of life sandwiched between youth and adulthood.
Life was asking more questions of me than I had answers. I had more talent than disciple and more flash than substance. In short, it was tough and it was overwhelming.
I made mistake after mistake. The ditch that I dug for myself just continued to grow.
I might have appeared to be walking forward to an onlooker, but inwardly, I wasn’t moving at all. I was hanging onto that last knot at the end of lives’ rope. It was as hopeless as I had ever been.
It was during that time that Jesus found me alone in an empty dorm room on my college campus.My conversation with God went something like this:
“God I am making a mess of things. Each decision I make seems to be another bad decision. I have done all that I want to do and I am not happy. If you will allow your Son to come into my heart, I will live for you. Will you please forgive me and save me?”
I omitted the tears and sobs, but they were there.
From that moment on, hopelessness was gone. It never has returned, not because of me or anything that I bring to the table, but because of Him. He gives me a peace and hope that is not easily comprehended. Don’t get me wrong – I still have problems like everyone else. I am not hopeless, however, because He who started a good work in me is faithful to complete it.
When David was a young man prior to becoming a king, his father asked him to go and check on his brothers. When David arrived, he found his brothers hiding from the enemy.
That enemy, of course, was a giant, who promised to cut off their heads and feed their bodies to the birds.
“Isn’t anyone going to do something about this guy talking like that about us and our God?” David asked of his brothers.
“Who will go?” they asked.
“I will,” said David.
The king offered his armor, but after trying it on, David refused.
“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied,” David said to the Philistine. The rest is history. David slew the giant with sling and a stone.
“Once, I was tending sheep and a bear came, and once a lion came, and I killed them both,” David said when asked about the feat.
“If God can protect and deliver, then He can protect now.” David’s hopelessness was replaced by the faithfulness of God.
“I have been young and I have been old; I have never seen the righteous forsaking or his seed begging for bread,” David said later in life.
In another event, men were at sea, and for quite some time had not seen the sun by day, nor the stars by night. They were throwing things overboard to lighten the load, knowing full well that death was near.
Then, one of the men who had hope stood up on the rocking boat in the middle of a storm with white squalls all around.
“And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship,” he said.
Those were two different men, but both possessed the same God and the same hope. Their experiences (and a few of my own) are more than enough to encourage me when tough times arrive. God has made me more than a conqueror.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
As for hopelessness, I’ve found that it’s not because of who I am, but because of who’s I am that I always have hope.