As people shared last night in our church home group, one strong theme emerged—the power of hope. We were asked to share something spiritually significant that had occurred during the past year. Each spoke of a dark time in which the light of hope carried them through. Through illness, loss, hurt, and loneliness. One foot was put in front of the other, moving forward step by step, powered by hope.
This morning, I read several chapters in Romans and what stood out to me was Paul’s reminder of the faith of Abraham. You may recall Abraham was promised by God that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens (Genesis 15:4-5). The promise was made at a time when Abraham was very old and his wife, Sarah, had been barren her whole adult life. Paul reminds his readers that Abraham trusted God and believed his promise, and that his faith was credited to him as righteousness (Romans 4:22).
Yet, what makes Abraham’s faith so amazing is that he felt so hopeless. Paul says,
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. Romans 4:18-21
Against all hope. Have you ever felt that way? So hopeless that there seemed to be no light at all? To have faith is to have hope when there appears no reason to be hopeful. Your money has run out. Your marriage is unraveling. Your long-planned goals have been derailed. By all accounts, the circumstances are insurmountable. No way out. Hopeless. This was Abraham. In a society that valued lineage above almost anything else, he had none. In fact, he told the Lord that his situation was so dire that the Lord had nothing to offer him. He considered himself worthless and unworthy.
Against all hope. We cannot go any lower than hopelessness. It is the very bottom of the depths. Yet, despite appearances and feelings, God is present in the midst of this darkness. And it was in this darkness that Abraham chose to believe, against all hope. God promised light and he delivered. He always does.
Hopelessness covered the land of Israel. It had been more than 400 years since God had spoken or made himself known. Four hundred years. More than 12 generations of silence. Imagine that. Then suddenly, the silence was broken by the angel, Gabriel; first speaking to Zachariah and then to Mary. Less than a year later, an angelic host announced the birth of the Savior, the long-awaited Messiah. Hope in the midst of hopelessness, and a promise kept.
What I am learning is that hope can only be kept alive when it is grounded in faith in our Lord. He doesn’t make promises he cannot or won’t keep. When he says that while we may experience trouble, we can take heart because he has overcome the world, we can count on it regardless of how life seems to be at any given moment. We will come through it victorious. When he says any sin confessed is a sin forgiven, it is true regardless of how we feel or what others might say in judgment of us. We do not have to be burdened with guilt or shame. When he says that he works all things together for good for those who love him and are called by him, then in whatever situation we find ourselves, we can be certain that good will come out of it. He will use it for our (and perhaps others’) good.
So, if you are reading this and feeling hopeless, or you know someone who has given up on life, may these words be of great encouragement and ones to share. No situation is hopeless when the Lord is present. All that is required in the midst of it is a belief he is trustworthy to follow through on what he has promised. Then his light can penetrate your darkness.
© Jim Musser 2019 All Scripture references from the New International Version.