- Devastated by a consultation with our doctor that began with, "I don't know how to tell you this, but..."
- Despondent because the divorce papers we hold in our hands confirm that the spouse we longed to grow old with doesn't love us anymore.
- Doubting because God didn't answer our prayers to heal that loved one who meant so much to us.
- Desperate because that dark cloud of depression continues to hang over our heads with no sign of dissipating.
- Disheartened because, despite our best efforts, we've had a relapse in our battle with addiction. Again.
There is no darker place than a soul that has lost hope.
Centuries ago, God's chosen people, the Israelites, found themselves in a seemingly hopeless situation. After being released from captivity in Egypt they thought they were home free, in the literal sense.
God had promised them a new place to live--a land described in the book of Exodus as a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey. That metaphor suggests a place of pure enjoyment, a vibrant and fertile land. The Hebrew word used for flowing comes from a verb which is best translated, to gush. After years of hardship, the people of Israel were looking forward to a life of joy and blessing, with God's goodness gushing all over them.
But those dreams were dashed once they heard the muffled sounds of galloping horses coming up from behind. The Egyptians had rethought their decision to let God's people go and were now in hot pursuit to bring them back to the land of slavery.
There was no way the people of Israel could outrun Egypt's finest chariots. Making matters worse was the fact that the Israelites were unarmed. But sealing the hopelessness of the situation was what lay immediately ahead. There, stretched out before the Israelites as far as they could see, was the Red Sea. They had nowhere to turn--except to God.
Most of us, at some point in our lives, have stood on that shore. We may be standing there now. Adversity pressing in on all sides with no conceivable way out. Crying out to God for help. And if we listen--really listen with a heart of faith--we will hear Him. He tenderly responds to us as He did to the children of Israel (Ex. 14):
- Don't be afraid.
- Stand firm.
- I will fight for you.
- I will deliver you.
The Apostle Paul refers to God as our "source of hope." His desire is that His children "overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 15:13). So He continually speaks words of hope to us. In fact, the Bible could best be described as God's message of hope to the world.
That message flows through the book of Psalms:
- Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God (Ps. 42:5).
- We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield (Ps. 33:20).
- The LORD’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love (Ps. 147:11).
- Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them (Ps. 10:17).
- Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge (Ps. 62:5-8).
God doesn't promise that we will never experience painful trials in our lives. But He promises that we will never face those trials alone. Hope is not the absence of pain, it's the presence of God.
The Bible says, The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him (Lam. 3:25). We describe life as "good" when everything works out exactly as we want. God's "good" is different. It's "better than good." It reaches beyond our circumstances and embraces our souls. When we seek God, believing that He is our source of hope, we will experience His goodness. We will feel His abiding presence. We will gain a deeper understanding of His love. We will acquire the confidence to take our next step. We will receive the strength to trust Him even when we don't understand Him.
God is the hope of the world. With the hope of the world on our side, we will never again encounter a hopeless situation.