I’m no sociologist or psychologist (although I wouldn’t mind being one), but I’m going to take a stab at something that would make you think I aspire to be both.
I think one of the most common human emotions is hopelessness.
I did some research this morning to see if my hypothesis could be backed up by research, and alas, I didn’t find anything to support my guess. But hear me out.
- The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reported that, “in 2013 (the most recent year for which full data are available), 41,149 suicides were reported, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans.”
- The World Health Organization reports “globally, more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression.”
- I stopped counting, but there are at least 20 songs on iTunes called “Hopeless.”
If you are hopeless, you are literally without hope. You’re likely to exhibit negative thoughts and feelings about life, your current situation, friendships, relationships, work, career, but particularly things you may have once expressed a lot of excitement about.
I know what it’s like to feel that way. Yes, me, a Christian, knows what it’s like to feel that way. In fact, I wrote a post yesterday in the depths of my hopelessness. By writing the post, I hoped to reveal that it’s possible for a Christian to experience this while still being a believer. Being a Christian doesn’t restrict you from feeling hopeless.
However, being a Christian gives you access to the greatest hope in the world. The cure for one of the most common human emotions is thinking on the thing that can give anyone hope. That thing is Jesus.
We crave hope. And hope is one of the best things in the world. It’s one of the things that Paul says “abides” in 1 Corinthians 13:13, along with faith and love.
But hope is not the greatest. Love is the greatest. For a minute I was thinking through why this was true. Why is love greater than hope? Why is love greater than faith? After all, isn’t it our faith in Jesus that is part of our salvation? What about our hope in Jesus?
I realized something huge: we have hope because of love. We have faith because of love. We have love because of love.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
We have hope because of love. God loved us and gave us Jesus, therefore those who believe in Him will have life everlasting. God’s love, shown through Christ, gives us hope of a life eternal with Him, of grace and mercy towards us in our sinful states, of an eternity separated from sin and worry and fear and pain.
We have faith because of love. God loved the world and gave us Jesus, so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. We have faith in God because of the love He showed us in Jesus. We trust Him. We believe Him. We have faith that He will follow up on His promises.
We have love because of love. God loved the world. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). As a response to God’s love of us, we love not only Him but others, and even ourselves. We see what love looks like, and we seek to respond in kind.
Everything revolves around the God’s love for us. His forgiveness of our sin, His faithfulness to us, His setting us apart for special attention and care, His building a place for us when we go to heaven. All of it. Because of His love for us, we can have hope.
We often run into hopelessness this side of heaven. We face divorce, cancer, depression, kids not behaving how we want them to, a job we can’t stand, a church that lets us down. We feel as if we are without hope on this earth.
There is a sense to where we are without hope on this earth. We won’t find the fulfillment of our desires completely on the earth. We will consistently be disappointed.
But we can have hope in Jesus, hope in the Lord of all creation, because of His great love for us. We can hope that His Word, His truth, and His Spirit working in us will get us through the difficulties we face. We can hope in a future where pain and sorrow are non-existent, not even words in our vocabulary, a future in heaven with Jesus as our friend and comfort. Eternally.
There are days when I struggle to believe these things. There are days I do OK believing them. But the beautiful truth of this is that no emotion of mine or action of mine changes the truth of these facts. They’re not based on me, they’re based on Jesus and His faithfulness.
That’s a hope I can buy into. Particularly when my circumstances and my emotions feel so dire. It’s not always easy to buy into it, but it’s worth pursuing. You’re not always going to have the good feelings. But you can have the good thoughts, and the peace, comfort and joy that come with thinking those things.
It’s not easy. But it’s worth it. I promise.