2006-11-18 - Hope and Despair
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2 Corinthians 1:6,7, "In the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded."
Sometimes it is easy to despair. Frank Perkins of Los Angeles may have had a reason to do so. He made an attempt to break the world flagpole-sitting record in 1992. After he came down, he not only discovered he was eight hours short of the 400-day record, but also that his sponsor had gone bust, his girlfriend had left him, and his phone and electricity had been cut off.
It is all too common that people just seem to have no hope. It can reach the point when we feel that there is nowhere to turn, nothing we can do to change our situation, and thus we do nothing at all. Certainly, when we are despairing, doing nothing should tell us that we are not doing the right thing. When we despair, as Christians, we need to be reminded of the good things of the Lord, of His promises, of our position in Christ. If we make the right use of such knowledge and understanding, we will soon be lifted out of our state of hopelessness.
We don't get anything good from despair. The only exception is when we despair of our sin. May we all despair of sinning, but in general, despair leads to nothing productive that will help bring an end to itself. The feeling of inability to do anything for ourselves or for others is circular, and for most it is not easily broken. The process of waiting around for something to change has a numbing effect as nothing changes.
It really is here that we must look to Christ for all our hope. Our hope in Christ is not something that is just Earthly, but we hope for eternity (1 Corinthians 15:19). Our foundation, being laid in Christ, means that it is not of a temporal and passing kind, but enduring and solid. Despair comes when we take our eyes, dreams, desires and focus off Christ, and find our peace in things other than Him. They can only lead to despair, because they have no permanence in them. How I love to sing John Newton's hymn, Glorious things of thee are spoken, where we find as the last line, "Solid joys and lasting treasure, none but Zion's children know." This is very true. True joy, true treasure are found in Christ alone, and only His children know anything of them.
It is easy to fall into despair, but the child of God need not do so. Consider the frustration in Broadway, Worcestershire, England, in 1990, when a safe was unlocked for the first time since its key had been lost in 1942. I am sure great things were expected. When the safe was opened, all it contained was a note urging people not to lose the key. We have a greater hope than that in Christ. Our safe may often feel empty, but it is full of the riches of His grace, and we cannot despair of having too much eternal hope. When the glories of Heaven are unlocked before us, the note shall say, "Come, you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world," Matthew 25:34. Therefore, let us not lose hope.
Soli Deo Gloria,