I shared in this post a little bit of my struggle with hope recently, and we’re going to explore the battle for/with hope in today’s post.
However, I do want to say from the outset that this is not a post about depression—at least not the go-to-counseling, take-some-medication, etc. kind of depression. This is more about the situational depression that most—if not all—Christians will face at least once in their life, the times when hope is gone.
As Christians, our lives are based on hope—hope in our Christ, hope for the future given to us by our Christ, hope despite the world of death we live in. Our hope is our confidence in Christ, our trust that He is who He said He is, that He’ll do what He said He will, and that in the end, we will be with Him.
But sometimes our hope can falter or collapse altogether. These are the seasons when our hope for the present time is deferred, and our hearts get sick. We get caught in a situation that beats the confidence right out of us—not the confidence that it will all be okay in the end but the confidence that we can make it through tomorrow.
Pain dims our vision, and it makes it seem like Jesus and all His triumph are so far away, too far away. We know in our heads that God is good. We know in our heads that this mess will end up for our good, eventually. We know in our heads that it will be all right, that God is righteous and kind and trustworthy.
Countless situations wring the hope right out of us. The death of a friend. The unfaithfulness of a spouse. The indifference of a child who’s walked away from God. The church that tears itself—you included—apart. The job that’s draining the lifeblood out of you. The storms that just. won’t. end.
The longer a trial goes on, the harder it is to walk through it with hope, and each of us has a breaking point, the point where pain gets to be too much, the point where we reach for hope and it’s just gone, completely out of reach.
I wish I could give five steps to reclaim hope, but it’s not that simple.
It’s never simple when you try to pray but you can only sit in silence or cry at God. It’s never simple when you’re sobbing four different times in one day. It’s never simple when you try to worship but you can’t lift your head past your hurt. It’s never simple when you need to talk about it but you don’t know how.
It’s never simple when you call out to God and beg for good things, things that are in His Word, things that seem like they would bring Him glory, things that seem like they would be His will, and He says “no” again and again and again and again and again until you don’t know what to pray for.
But hope is never truly gone, and that is what we have to remember.
Hope is never truly gone because God is never gone. Yes, it can feel like He’s far away, but He’s not. Yes, sometimes we have no way of knowing when it will get better—or even if it will get better—but someday it will, even if that day isn’t until we go meet Jesus in the clouds.
Yes, eternity can seem like it’s a lifetime away and the present can be like a millstone, but our hope cannot be fixed in the present. We are a people crafted for an eternity with God. We are a people set apart as priests and prophets and exiles always looking toward our home.
Recently, this was hard truth for me to swallow. I wanted hope for now, but instant hope is flimsy hope. I learned that Jesus alone must be enough, and that He is enough because He is all that is sure and steady in life.
When I came to the end of my hope and I sat on the floor trying to pray while I cried, I encountered comfort from the Holy Spirit. At the end of my strength, He had more than enough. When I wasn’t sure when life would get better, that was all right because He’s promised that eternal life will be better than my wildest imaginings. When my faith and hope gave way, there was an ocean of grace for me to fall into. When I failed, He did not.
And He’s where I fix my hope.
Whenever I come up short, in any way that I come up short, He has plenty.
So when your hope is gone, keep your eyes open. Wrestle with God. Look into eternity. Don’t believe the lies your heart tells you; what you feel does not change what’s true. Weep and mourn when you must. Keep moving with endurance. Remember that God is infinite and far too high for us to always see how He’s working it for good. Read and reread Hebrews—it’s all about faith and hope. Learn to sing when there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
Hold fast to your confidence in Christ. Don’t lose heart. Don’t give up. With God, hope is never truly gone. Our Prize is far too valuable to give up now.
P.P.S. – this is such a huge subject, and I hardly went into WHY we cannot give up or faith’s relationship with hope, so if you guys are interested, we might be exploring this a little more in the coming year.