Having Hope When All Seems Hopeless
Some trials in life in life seem to go on and on forever with no end in sight. Every day, we struggle with unemployment, marriage problems, financial disasters, illness, and strained relationships. Sometimes, we wonder if the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train instead of a way out into the sunlight.
One of the biggest challenges I have faced is poor physical health. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, and had to endure chemo, drug therapy, radiation, and surgery, including several reconstruction surgeries. Every day, I struggle with chronic fatigue and problems sleeping. I have nerve damage in my fingertips and at the bottom of my feet that make these areas tingle all the time.
It has taken several horrible surgeries to restore my disfigured body. My body does not work as efficiently as it did in the past. Some lymph nodes were removed during my cancer surgery, so my lymphatic system on my right upper side does not pump fluid out of my arm efficiently. This condition is called lymphedema. I have to wear a compression bandage to keep my right arm from swelling up like a balloon.
On top of that I have to face the possibility of the cancer coming back. I have met many people whose cancer had returned after their remission during the course of my treatment. I also have many other problems to deal with, such as financial struggles. People often ask me how I manage to cope and maintain a positive attitude. I can sum up my answer in one four letter word: hope.
So how can we overcome despair in the most hopeless situations? We may be facing unemployment, broken relationships, illness, or financial disaster. There are several ways we can experience hope.
Assurance Through Prayer
God has a plan for us that gives us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). It is His will that we prosper and be in good health (3 John 3:2). Jesus said that He would never leave us, forsake us, or throw us away ((John 6:37. God is delighted when we put our hope in his unfailing love (Psalm 147:11).
We can hold onto hope because we have a God who answers prayer. God answers prayer with three possible answers: “yes,” “no,” and “wait a while.” Jesus assures us that everyone who asks will receive (Matthew 7:7-9). What seems impossible to us is possible with God (Luke 18:27). Stories of how Jesus met people's needs, healed them from their illnesses, and raised the dead reveal how Jesus longs to meet our needs.
When we are tempted to feel discouraged, we can read stories in the Bible about people who struggled with depression such as David, or despair such as Job, and be inspired by how God worked in their lives. There are many encouraging verses that assure us that we can hope in His unfailing love (Psalm 33:18). God tells us to be strong and take heart (Psalm 31:24). We can also surround ourselves with people who will lift us up when we are down.
See the options
There are always ways that we can improve our situation. For example, I can pray to be healed from the physical damage to my body from cancer and the treatment. I will be tempted to feel sorry for myself and complain about my situation, but instead I choose to do things that will improve my physical condition. I try to eat right, get enough sleep, rest when my body tells me I should, and exercise.
No situation is completely hopeless. I actually once attended the wedding of a 75 year-old man who was marrying for the first time. Like the old saying tells us, “it ain’t over until it’s over.” I will continue to hope for healing from my physical problems until the end because I feel assured that God can heal me at any time He chooses.
Trials usually do not last forever
Most trials are temporary and will end. We must be patient in affliction (Romans 12:12) and not despair.
Consider these examples from the Bible
- Sarah, the wife of Abraham, bore him a son a long time of waiting well past her childbearing years
- Joseph came out of slavery and a long imprisonment to become the second in-chief ruler of Egypt
- Job lost members of his family, his wealth, and his health – he went from sitting on an ash heap scrapping his sores to experiencing God restoring to him twice as much as he had had before
- David went from being on run from a vengeful King Saul to becoming king over Israel
- God saved Daniel from the lions and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from a flaming furnace
No matter how bad things are, the time will finally come when our health improves, we finally get a job, heal a broken relationship, or work ourselves out of financial disaster.
The greatest hope
If nothing works for us in this life, we have a hope of a perfect, eternal life with God in the next (Titus 1:2). May we all overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit and not despair when things seem hopeless (Romans 15:13, Ephesians 1:18-19). As Christians, we experience a new birth that is a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).
I confess that there are times when I feel full of despair and become inpatient with this broken body of mine. In all, though, I try to keep hoping for healing, whether in this world or in the next. May we all overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).
The Holy Bible, New International Version
Will You Dare to Be Hopeful When Life Seems Hopeless?, Whitney Hopler
Hope in God in Hopeless Times, Jack Wellman
© 2015 Carola Finch