Hopelessness and feeling helpless are one of the cruelest weapons of the enemy against us. satan relentlessly lies to us that our situation or circumstances are hopeless and that we are helpless to do anything to change it. The enemy tries to get us to accept this as the truth and to paralyze and immobilize us from moving forward in life. Thoughts of hopelessness, helplessness and despair are not from God, our God is the God of hope!
Listening to the story of someone's struggle and responding with compassion is one way that we show the love and compassion of Christ. Yet, it seems that we often go beyond what Jesus did. Jesus never encouraged self pity or remaining in the role of the victim. He never let someone remain in an attitude of hopelessness and helplessness. He helped them up, then sent them out to live a changed life. He didn't tell them life would be better for them if only they weren't under the thumb of the Roman government. He didn't tell them that because their circumstances or situation was unfair, they were stuck living a less than life. He didn't tell them that because they were a Samaritan or a woman or a leper that they were permanently doomed to live a subpar existence. In the name of Christ-like compassion, in our attempt to listen to someone's heart, let's not feed the lie that they may be believing, the lie that they have no hope and are helpless to change because of some outside force that is holding them down. We can acknowledge their pain without feeding their pity. Let's not point to some political change or some sort of societal reform that has to happen before they can live a hope filled life. Let's not foster the belief that because they were born into a dysfunctional family or into poverty their future is limited. Let's point them to the God of all hope, the God who wants us to grasp onto and really believe that with Him nothing is impossible!
Let's face it, this life is not fair. Injustice abounds. As Christians we should be involved to the best of our ability to fight against injustice, to work toward righteous social reform. But, if our hope is based on societal or governmental reform or on human leadership to make all things right with our world, we will be sorely disappointed. Jeremiah 17:5-8 makes it pretty clear, "Thus says the Lord: Cursed with great evil is the strong man who trusts in relies on frail man, making weak human flesh his arm, and whose mind heart turn aside from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub a person naked and destitute in the desert; and he shall not see any good come, but shall dwell in the parched places in the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Most blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, relies on the Lord, and whose hope confidence the Lord is. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit." A fruitful, fulfilling life is the desire of God for everyone, no matter their race, their gender, or their socio-economic status. However, confidence and hope in God is the foundational key to that happening, not hope placed in some manmade fix that may or may not happen somewhere down the road.
After Daddy left Mama and us kids, my little brother, who was seven at the time, really struggled. He struggled in school. He struggled getting into trouble with kids in our neighborhood. Let's face it, he had a lot of unfair strikes against him. But, somewhere along the line he grabbed onto the truth that God had a good plan for him. Somewhere along the line he grabbed onto the hope that God extended toward him. He quit being a helpless victim of his unfair circumstances and made a decision to become more than a conqueror. With God's help and grit and determination and discipline, he graduated high school at the top of his class. He graduated college and became a pastor, and eventually a missionary in East Africa. He worked hard toward and obtained his master's degree and then his doctorate. Because of God's great grace in his life, he has pointed others all over the world to this same hope that he found.
I've faced some difficulties in my life as well, I've faced unfair circumstances that made me feel hopeless and helpless. But, the reality is, there's someone reading this who has faced things far more difficult, who has faced things far more life altering than I. Yet, the truth is the truth. No matter what horrific, unfair, unjust things that you've had to face in this life, you do not have to remain in hopelessness and helplessness. There's a God in heaven who wants to reach down and lift you out of the pit of despair and set you on a path to a fruitful, fulfilling life. He's not going to wave a magic wand and suddenly make everything easy for you, but He can give you the strength and guidance you need in order to take the first step towards a changed life, and every single step after that one. Come on friend, grab onto some hope along with me. (I'd love to pray for God to help you do so. Just leave a comment.)