When It’s Hard to Hope 

| February 17, 2016

by Walk in the Word with James McDonald

Hope“Do you want to be healed” (John 5:6, ESV)?

Whether you’re in the midst of a rough marriage, a health crisis, or just feeling the weight of our sin-worn world, nothing in your life is going to change until you change the way you think. You have to care enough to hope for something better. Bottom line: you have to want it.

Remember the story of the guy who waited for 38 years by the pools of Bethesda until Jesus showed up and healed him? John 5 explains how the angel of the Lord would stir up the pools, and whoever got in the water first got healed. Pretty cool—if you’re the first one in the pool.

Imagine how often the water churned only for this guy’s healing to escape him. How many times in the first year alone did he watch other people get the breakthrough he longed for?

Maybe at year five he was still making a plan. But what was he thinking in year ten? By year twenty or thirty-five, had he resigned himself to permanently camping out and begging by the side of the pool?“This is my life. This is how it’s always going to be.”

Sound familiar? Maybe as you’re reading this, the biggest thing you’re battling is simply the fact that you still think the way you’ve always thought. 

What gets lost is hope, and when you stop hoping, you stop caring.

Remember what Jesus said to the man by the pool? He knew he’d been there a long time, but Jesus said . . . wait for it . . . “Do you want to be healed?”

It sounds like a rather obvious question from the God of the Universe, doesn’t it? So, clearly, He was after something different. He wanted to know what the guy was thinking.

Was he still hoping to be healed? Or had he lost hope?

Do Christians lose hope? Yes, we can. We stop hoping for several reasons.

We stop hoping because hopeless people suck the hope out of us.
Picture this. You get up in the morning, get into God’s Word, and spend some time in prayer. You get your mind set on Christ and leave your house super positive, ready for the day and trusting God. Then someone shows up and says, “I would be so depressed if I were you! You must be miserable! How long have you been single [or sick . . . or out of work. . . .]?” You had some hope, but they drained it right out of you. 

Are you surrounding yourself with people who have hope, or people who suck the hope out of you?

We stop hoping because it’s hard to hope.
Hope doesn’t come naturally—you have to work at it. Think about it. Nobody works at negativity—that just shows up, right? You have to discipline your mind to think differently.

We stop hoping because it hurts to hope.
The Bible says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). When we hope, we make our hearts vulnerable to being disappointed. Inevitably people let us down, and it hurts. 

Maybe you are hoping—or were hoping—for God to do something, say, in one of your kids, but you haven’t seen it yet. So you’re not praying anymore and you’ve hardened your heart.

But ask yourself this, loved one: can you see that it hurts even more not to hope? Can you see what happens when you don’t care anymore—when you don’t even pray?

You have to think differently. Scripture tells us to “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

As Christians, we know that no matter how many peaks and valleys we go through in life, this whole thing is heading fast toward a massive, forever celebration. We’re fired up about that, and we look forward to it!

The world sees only a hopeless end; Christ-followers see an endless hope. And this hope lives not just in eternity, but here and now as God meets needs, answers prayer, carries burdens, forgives sin, changes lives, and increases joy as we journey to that endless hope.

Journal

  • What’s something you’ve spent a long time hoping and waiting for? Spend some time honestly bringing any hopelessness before the Lord and asking Him to renew your hope.
  • Who in your life reminds you of the hope you have in Christ? Thank the Lord for those who help you think differently about your situation.

Pray
Heavenly Father, my hope is in You. I praise You because You are faithful and loving and always have my sanctification in Your sovereign plan. Help me to discipline my mind to wait on You, pray to You, and rejoice in Your eternal hope until the day my faith becomes sight. In the name of Jesus, our living hope, amen.


 Our Journey devotionals are brought to you by Change Partners of Walk in the Word.

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Category: Crohn's - IBD, Friends of Mentor Me, Spiritual Matters

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