Dear Church Family,
Hopelessness is a terrible thing that leads people to do terrible things. In my estimation there are two kinds of hopelessness. One is a perception, but the other is a reality. Before we delve into these two categories, we need to define our terms.
In our current vernacular, being hopeful means feeling joyfully expectant about the future. Being hopeless, on the other hand, means feeling despairingly certain about the future. There are many people who consider their situation hopeless, when in fact there is hope for them. This is probably the most common way we think of hopelessness in connection with some sort of crisis where the outcome seems bleak. Even though this hopelessness is a perception and not a reality, when people live in light of this feeling, the effects are devastating.
Interestingly, the Bible defines hope and being without hope a little differently. In the minds of the New Testament authors, hope is not an expectant feeling—it is an anticipated certainty. The reason this hope is actual and not potential is because of the source of our hope. Our hope rests in Jesus Christ, who is Himself in the presence of God the Father serving on our behalf as a forerunner (Hebrews 6:19-20). For this reason, just as Jesus is alive after finishing His earthly work, including His death on the cross, so too our hope is alive with Him (1 Peter 1:3-5). This means it is impossible for the Christian to ever truly be hopeless. No matter the situations we face, no matter the calamities we endure, no matter the suffering we feel—our hope remains steadfast though we may need to be reminded.
There was once a time in all of our lives, before being born again, when we truly had no hope. Hopelessness was our reality. We had no hope because we were separated from Christ and not united with His people. If we don’t have Christ, we don’t have hope; that is, the certainty of the blessings of God. But now that we are in Christ, we will never be without hope again (Ephesians 2:12-14). So then, when we feel hopeless, we must plead with the Lord to open our eyes to see our bedrock hope. We must fight to remember by clinging to the cross, resolving to act according to our theology and not our feelings.
Furthermore, we are not alone in this. All of us will deal with seasons of despair, but God has promised never to leave us or forsake us. He has also given us the local church in part to tangibly manifest that reality. Our hope is secure, but we still struggle and strain as we wait for it to be realized. Be of good courage, Christian, that Day is closer now than it has ever been.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).