A few days ago I wrote about people who, faced with incurable disease, choose to end their lives.
I suppose it is fair to say that their actions are, to some extent at least, motivated by loss of hope. And that’s what I wish to address today.
Perhaps one of the most tragic and damaging thing that can befall man is the loss of hope. Whatever our situation may be, if we lose hope, if we cannot see the prospect of our situation changing for the better, we are in danger of shutting down completely and accepting the inevitable outcome.
We live in difficult times. Financial crises are affecting many people. Millions are losing their jobs, their homes and their livelihood.
Those aged fifty or more would find it very difficult to find a comparable job again, if indeed they can find any job at all. More tragically, the thousands of youngsters leaving colleges and universities with good qualifications, and little prospects of employment. They feel cheated. They did what they were advised to do. They stayed in education, they worked hard, they probably amassed large debts and loans to help sustain them whilst they studied – and now there are no jobs to go to.
There are of course other circumstances which can lead us to lose hope, besides illness, or lack of work and so on. Broken relationships with no prospect of reconciliation, addictions, failures etc … all can lead us to the temptation to just give up.
Where’s all this leading to? – I hear you ask.
I’d like you for a moment to consider some facts.
Whatever happens in life one thing is for certain: God is still in control. He is not hiding away behind the settee crying: “Woe woe … look at what is happening out there!”
He is in total control of the situation which He has allowed to happen, and which, in most circumstances, we have created for ourselves.
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews knew what he was saying when he wrote: To have Faith is to be sure of the things we hope for … (Hebrews 11).
And the important thing, whatever our circumstances, is to hold on to that Faith and to believe, in all certainty, that God is in control. And to thank Him and praise Him for being in control. To re-affirm and acknowledge our belief that He is in control.
By doing so, somehow, we open a channel for God to turn our situation to the good. I’ve seen this happen several times.
Think of the alternative. By turning our back on God, by ignoring Him, blaming Him even for our situation – He will hardly feel inclined to help us. Will He? Of course, He’ll remain in control, waiting for us, with Fatherly patience, love and understanding, for the moment we return to Him like the prodigal son and be welcomed in His arms.
But what do you do if someone else has lost hope – even though you may not have yourself?
Preaching will not help. It may drive them further away.
Love, sympathy, compassion, whatever practical help you can offer may well help a little.
But most important is prayer. Silent prayer even. Without them knowing about it.
Let your Faith and your hope work for them. Even though they may have little or no Faith at all, your Faith is enough.
The best listened to and answered prayers are those we pray for other people. They show God our generosity of spirit, our love, our compassion, and most of all, our Faith in Him.
Don’t suggest solutions to God; like “Please help Him find a job”, but earnestly and in all Faith hand the situation over to Him. He knows what to do, in His time and in His own way.
Just say: “Thy will be done” and mean it.
And watch His miracles at work.