2012-03-21 - When Hope Is Fading
"May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13)
Each day, I receive email updates from an organization that spotlights different missions groups and what they're doing in countries around the world. It often describes the impact of natural disasters, political situations, or other external events, and the needs of the countries and the missionaries that serve them. The first headline for the Oct. 26, 2011 story read, "Hope is fading as Turkey searches for quake survivors."
The phrase "hope is fading" stuck in my mind. It was such a vivid description of what happens when a good outcome seems less and less likely. Hope was there. Now it is going away. There was more hope, at least a certain amount of it. Now, there is less and less. "Hope is fading." It is disappearing, shrinking, evaporating.
It seems like hope is fading for a lot of people lately. There are larger tragedies, such as the earthquake in Turkey, but then there are so many individual tragedies every day, that people are silently living with. Whether its depression, grief, an invisible illness, an estranged family, feeling trapped by finances, or a sense of purposelessness, so many people are losing hope. They have no idea how their situation is going to get better, or when or if it will change. Solutions either aren't possible or haven't worked. They feel they've used up resources and don't have options. The future looks like more problems and suffering and challenges. They feel despair and defeat. They are afraid and unsure how to dig out of the hole they've fallen into, how to get out from under the dark cloud that follows them. They feel helpless and overwhelmed, and don't know where to turn.
I have felt this way at times, too. Hopelessness is a horrible place to get to. At such times, I have to remember that what I know may be very different from what I feel. My emotions may be screaming something else at me, and they may seem much more real than the more quiet sense of certainty that is true knowing. That's the wonderful thing about truth. Truth doesn't change with feelings or situations. If we believe the Bible is true, we have to accept what it says, no matter what our emotions tell us. This is the case for hope, and for so many other truths taught in Scripture. The concepts may seem elusive and hard to grab hold of, but we can still believe they are real. Its not easy to do this, but it is so important and necessary. The more hopeless we feel, the more vital this is.
I can cling to the knowledge that hope exists, because the Bible says it does. It says so in a number of places. Regardless of how impossible or desperate things seem, its hard to argue with the reality of hope, when I find verse after verse that speaks of it. Repeatedly. Over and over. Old and New Testament. I know there is hope. I know God is the source of it. The kind of hope the Bible talks about is eternal and not based on circumstance. It is a hope that transcends situations, and is bigger than anything we face here on Earth.
"This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope." It is my job to remember (call to mind) what is true, and to put my hope in my Savior and my God. If I cling to what I know, feelings will eventually follow, and hopefulness will replace hopelessness. My situation may not change, but my perspective will.