In what appears to be a hopeless world at times we all lack the tendency to grasp the substance of hope and how it is available to every one of us through faith. There have been many times especially during challenging circumstances where grief, anxiety, stress, anger, addiction, depression and a myriad of other destructive emotions and habits slithered into my life. It was during such times when my heart was weighed down by an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness, causing me to want to cease to exist altogether. The interesting thing about this nightmarish feeling is I would search for hope in all the wrong places rather than looking in the most unusual place—Jesus Christ.
As a believer of forty plus years, in retrospect, I discovered my most hopeless instances involved circumstances where Christ was not present. The human (flesh) side of me was too busy seeking fulfillment in all places except for the comforting embrace of our Savior. The scariest part about being a follower of Christ is falsely thinking sin would automatically dissipate from everyday living when in reality nothing could be further from the truth.
Romans 3:23 ~ “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And, 1 John 1:8~“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
There was a period of time when I was drowning in a sea of hopeless despair after my dad passed away and being a Christian did not magically free me of a grief-stricken downward spiral. I became fixated on various exploits which included gambling, wasteful bouts of spending, adultery and lingering in a constant state of drunkenness—just to name a few. My life became a revolving door of confusion because I was trapped in a web of self-pity and deception stemming from lies whispered in my ear by the enemy. I neglected my faith and chose to temporarily ignore the teachings of Christ. Sometimes I think about how things would have turned out if only I had nestled my spirit in a safe haven where my true purpose would have prevailed through faith by realizing how vitally important hope is and how it was designed to transcend all unforeseen afflictions.
Hebrews 11:1~“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Whenever I reflect on those dark years of my life I remember several family members and friends offering their advice and how some would even quote Bible verses trying to deliver me from the clutches of Satan. However, it was not easy listening to their unsolicited opinions, especially when it entailed hearing those reciting scripture. All I did was wallow in total chaos that I created for myself and had turned a deaf ear so it would be easier to shut out the rest of the world. I always knew God was a huge part of my life; but at the time, I often avoided Him by refusing to read His Word or adhere to the divine purpose He ordained for me. I recall whirling in a fog of darkness oblivious to caring about anything until one day when God commanded my attention by knocking me off my feet. He showed me who is King by forcing me to sit still and praise His name as if my very life depended on it, which obviously it did.
Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
I continued to pray periodically even in the midst of all the madness, but my heart was not in it. My prayers consisted of fruitless ramblings which lacked hope and faith to back up my actions; and we all know faith without works is dead as revealed in the Book of James 2:26. I learned the hard way that in order to transform my hopeless life into a hopeful lifestyle, divine intervention had to occur in order to produce acceptable behavior within the parameters of Almighty God. It took a few serious unfortunate events and health scares (God’s way of knocking me off my feet) before I finally wised up enough to listen and really hear what God was telling me. I am so grateful that He renewed my strength and healed my soul with new found hope by taking my mind off of self and refocusing it on Him.
Sometimes we need to get out of our own way and stop being our own worst enemy so we could find the true essence of hope and apply it to everyday living. I came to the realization that God is the reason for the season in every aspect of survival and I had to redirect my attention on Him with my whole heart. I advocate to not live for selfish ambition, but rather to strive for excellence according to the Will of God. I realized the only way to attain this goal is to produce good fruit through faith and unrelenting hope in Jesus Christ. The bottom line is that I had to pretty much lose my life in order to find it.
Matthew 16:25~“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
All scripture is comprised of extraordinary power. All one has to do is meditate on the sustaining Word of God and truly believe and receive all that He teaches. We should learn to examine our daily lives, good or bad, happy or sad, bound or free, with a willingness to lose what we have in order to gain what God has for us. It is our Christian responsibility to encourage others as well as to be encouraged, especially during life altering trials which we must all endure until the end of time. Jesus Christ lived, died and resurrected into the Kingdom of Heaven. He overcame the world and will return for all of us who overcome by clinging to hope regardless of our misfortunes. God gave us free will so we can either choose to get crushed or through faith and hope, we could put on His armor to crush the spiritual battles of evil entities that invade our daily lives.
Ephesians 6:11-12~ “Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
We must stand apart from the rest of the world ready and willing to shine God’s light in times of darkness and adversity. It is so easy to praise God and worship Him during good times, but just as important, maybe even more so to lift Him up in the midst of hardship. We must show this lost world what we are made of and who we are made from. I survived many dark stages in my life and there will inevitably be more to endure, but one thing I know for sure is I will never lose hope again by allowing the devil to deceive me with his lies and futile attempts to destroy the good things God has in store.
My life is at peace and my hope is alive again. I am profoundly hopeful for all of the rewards Christ will bestow to faithful believers upon His long awaited return. Whenever people begin noticing the joy emanating from our spirit is when we may be assured we are closer to receiving everything that God has promised as a result of our hope and devotion. It is during the darkest moments when people are watching us the most to see if we practice what we preach.
1 Peter 3:15~“But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.”
Talk is cheap and all people really want to see is how we as Christians handle the most challenging times of life. If we preach hope through Jesus Christ as the one true antidote which carries us through rough times, we must back it up by our actions otherwise, we will be unsuccessful in leading others to Christ.
"Therefore, get your minds ready for action by being fully sober, and set your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:13)
Upholding hope is not easier said than done, but rather it is easier done than said if genuinely led by a faithful heart and spirit. I am alive today because of the hope that God restored in my life as well as teaching me how to trust Him rather than leaning on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). As rough as life may get, only God knows the outcome of the future and I kid you not, after each lesson learned there is always an understanding truth which supersedes the rationale of why things happen the way they do. We should all strive to keep hope alive in all we do through our faith in the saving grace and loving Spirit of Jesus Christ. Our lives will speak to others by the fruit we harvest along the way.
Matthew 7:19-20~“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits, you will know them.”
By, Teresa Wiltz (2017)