When All Hope Seems Lost
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
I don’t think I will ever forget January of 2004. About halfway through the month my partner of four and a half years ended our relationship. Devastated doesn’t quite capture the emotional pain and anguish I experienced; I literally didn’t eat for three days and barely slept at all. How could I go on alone? In my mind the worst possible thing on earth had just happened, and in the moment it felt as though life were over. In reality, my life was just beginning - God used that pain to soften a stone-cold heart, bringing me to a place where I could finally see my need for Jesus. I got on my knees, repented of my sin, and began following Jesus on that narrow path of life.
Have you ever had a time in your life when it seemed as though all were lost? Maybe it was bad news from the doctor, the death of your beloved spouse, a child with chronic illness or disability, or a devastating job loss that left your finances in ruins. There’s no shortage of disasters in this fallen world that can turn our world upside down in an instant and make it seem as though hope is a fool’s errand. Yet hope is the very gift we’re offered by Jesus! Take a moment and reflect on these brutally honest words from the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
I sometimes think, “If I only had faith like Paul, I’d be a stronger Christian.” Then I read this! Paul’s sufferings in Asia were at one point so intense that he wanted to die! Do you think Paul was struggling to find hope in that moment? Of course - but hope is exactly what he did eventually find when he remembered that Jesus, who had risen from the grave, would also one day raise him back to life as well.
The same is true for us - if we’re followers of Jesus, we have the hope that one day the pains of this life will fade away and we’ll spend a joyous eternity in fellowship with Jesus. All that’s lost will be restored, made new and perfected as we experience God’s blessed shalom. I’ll admit - when I’m having days like today when my chronic pain is flaring up, it’s easy for my trials to take center stage instead of my Savior. I need to be reminded often that there is always hope - and not just any hope, but a living hope!
I don’t know what you’re facing today; if you feel like all hope is lost, take a Psalm 22:1 moment and cry out to God and let him know all your pain, anguish, and fears. Then let the truth of Psalm 23 be your comfort and hope - our good shepherd is leading us to green pastures forever.