BY DR. DEBBIE LANIER
I can easily pinpoint memories where hope straight-up disappeared, can you? Can you recall any inconsolable seasons in your living, when you stood at a precipice with every path burned behind you and no landing whatsoever before you? If you’re drawing a blank, well . . . bless your heart. Turn the page while the rest of us have a moment.
Hopelessness is debilitating. We can live without a lot, but we can’t live a day without at least a smidgen of hope persevering inside us.
Let’s look at the prophet Jeremiah’s journey. Friend, his feelings of despondency sank to a whole other depth of despair. He spent his adult life, forty years, being the most hated man in his country. Everyone wanted him dead! Why? Because he persistently prophesied God’s Word to a stiff-necked people. It was nothing they wanted to hear.
God extended every opportunity to choose differently. The people of Judah, though, kept barreling towards the cliff. When their worst nightmare—meaning, Jeremiah’s every prophecy—came true, hopelessness choked their ability to imagine a future for themselves or their generations.
Jeremiah watched people starve and die in the streets as the enemy besieged the city. He wept as hopelessness crushed him without reprieve. His beloved city and people lay in ruins, seemingly beyond any possibility of repair.
The weeping prophet bemoaned, “I have cried until the tears no longer come; my heart is broken. Everything I had hoped for from the LORD is lost!” (Lamentations 3:11; 18) Wow!
Have you ever suffered the kind of despair that makes you wish you were dead? Jeremiah did. He lamented at one point, “I wish I had never been born.” (Jeremiah 15:10) Now that’s hopelessness. There’s no foreseeable way forward, NONE!
But in that moment of deepest, paralyzing anguish, Jeremiah did what each of us must do when despair lands that heavily upon us. He took control of his mind! He CHOSE to turn away from what he felt and toward what God said. This despondent man reminded himself, “Because of the LORD’S faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. In fact, God’s mercies are brand-spanking-new every morning.” This depressed soul kept encouraging himself in the LORD so emphatically, right in his despair, that he eventually declared of the LORD, “GREAT IS YOUR FAITHFULNESS!” (Lamentations 3:23)
Get it? Despite pervasive hopelessness, Jeremiah determined to grip the rope of hope, which is God’s Word, and pull himself out of that pit of despair. He renewed his mind with the Truth he knew, even though he felt no hope in that moment. Jeremiah’s worship session ultimately inspired the famous hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” sung all over the world. (Talk about cool!) That weeping, weary soul worshiped until he convinced his mind of the Truth. “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my HOPE in HIM!” (3:24)
Like Jeremiah, I know God’s mercies are real. God lavishes His kindness and compassion upon us (you and me, personally!). But here’s the catch: they are mine only when I appropriate them into my life. They’re only potential until I personally retrieve them for myself.
This HOPE God gives is never passive. You and I must pull it to our bosom and own it. We must change our channel and think on what God says, not what we see.
I don’t know the name of that cliff underneath your toes. But I do know the name of your Hope! His Name is Jesus. His mercies extended to you never run dry. His faithfulness never gives way. Pull it close and rest in it today! There’s more than enough with your name on it, I promise!
For comments or prayer, please contact Dr. Lanier at HopeCommunityChurch.tv.