Last year around Christmas, I wrote to affirm the infinite value of re-reading familiar passages of the Bible, like the story of Jesus’s birth in Luke chapters 1 through 2. And this year, I want to also affirm the practice of looking at multiple places in the Bible to increase...
If you are a human, no doubt you have felt hopeless at times. You’ve endured seasons in your life when everything around you seemed to be crumbling, and you couldn’t do anything about it.
If you are human, you’ve probably felt helpless a time or two. You may have believed that nothing you could do would make any difference no matter how hard you tried.
If we’re not careful, these seasons of hopelessness can morph into an ongoing outlook on life; we begin to expect the worst to happen. We believe things are already decided against us—and there’s nothing we can do.
It’s almost impossible to turn on the news or swipe through social media feeds without seeing some sort of horrible incident played out. With so much devastation and injustice around us, it is tempting to give up and resign ourselves to the evil around us.
But Jesus offers us hope and a fresh perspective on the darkness in our lives. While we are finite, time-bound people, Jesus is infinite and timeless and can see the larger picture of our lives.
Jesus Dwelt Among the Hopeless
Jesus taught a radically different approach to the corruption and brokenness of this world. He knew his followers would struggle with these very issues so he made sure to address the defeatist mindset.
If anyone had reason for pessimism, it was the first century Jew. Oppressed by Rome with crushing taxes and an obligation to Caesar, Israel couldn’t have what it most wanted: sovereignty. Sure, the empire allowed for a bit of freedom in the religious arena, but their designated “king” Herod the Great was corrupt and a Roman sympathizer.
Ditto for his sons and sister whom Rome appointed tetrarchs of Israel after the king died. It seemed as if there were no reason for optimism.
With this context in mind, we can better recognize the gravity of Christ’s teachings on the subject. And though he taught these lessons over 2000 years ago, they speak directly to the hopeless and pessimist inside each one of us.
3 Things Jesus Wants You to Know
If you struggle with any of these attitudes you’re not alone. Jesus took on our form to speak directly to the problems we face—including hopelessness. Here’s what he says:
Suffering is temporary for those who place their faith in him.
No matter what you’re going through, Christian, God will see you through it. There is an end in sight. Sometimes relief occurs in this lifetime, but if not Jesus will bring restoration when he returns to earth. As John wrote in Revelation:
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (21:4)
It may sound like a cop-out to say suffering will cease when we enter heaven, but no one knew this truth better than Jesus. He endured the cross despite unspeakable pain from the whip, the thorns, and the nails because he understood his suffering was temporary and God would restore him.
Jesus told his disciples he had to die but that he would return to set everything right. But why wait to return? Why not restore everything to order right now, just as the Jewish people expected of their Messiah? Peter tells us why. He wrote:
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
Did you get that? God allows suffering and sin to continue for a time as he waits for the maximum number of people to turn to him. He does not delight in judging and condemning people, therefore he’s giving them every opportunity to repent.
Christians can be light in the darkness.
Though things appear dim, Christians can make a difference. God is sovereign, but he chooses to use us, leveraging our faith to carry out his will.
When you feel helpless or overwhelmed, remember that Jesus said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” (Luke 17:6).
Do you really believe that? This was no lesson on how trees grow, but rather a reinforcement of something Jesus said earlier: “All things are possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23).
These are not just empty words! This is the power of God working through our faith to destroy the darkness in a corrupt world.
Persist despite corruption and persecution.
When faced with infidelity, child abuse, embezzlement, rape, natural disasters, and all the rest of the horrors the world throws our way, don’t give up. Persist in your faith. Easier said than done, right? How do we do it? Consistent prayer.
Jesus told a parable about a widow who needed governmental intervention to right an injustice perpetrated against her. Just one problem: the judge was an unrighteous man.
The first-century widow had little value or leverage in society. Since the judge was immoral, he had no incentive to listen to her. There was nothing in it for him. Nevertheless, the widow came day after day to the man, pleading her case. Day after day the judge ignored her, until finally one day out of frustration he relented and gave her the justice she sought.
What’s the point? Our father is righteous, so how much more should we approach his throne with our petitions? As Jesus said, “Will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily” (Luke 18:7-8).
Jesus told this parable to his disciples so that they would not lose heart. Once he was dead, it would be their turn to pick up his mantle and suffer persecution. He knew things were about to get rough for his followers, so he used this parable as a reminder that God grants the petitions for justice of his people.
We Are All Beggars
When you feel down and out think back to Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount in which he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). This is an excellent reminder that we are dependent on God for everything.
I’ve heard it said this way, “Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.” Spiritually, we are all beggars, who must rely on grace from our father. Once we embrace our spiritual poverty, it causes us to rely on him for sustenance—our daily bread.
In doing so, God fills our spiritual bellies, giving us enough to make it through the day. So take heart when you feel hopeless or helpless. Turn to God and he will restore you.
 D. T. Niles, as quoted by David Black in the New York Times, May 11, 1986: https://www.nytimes.com/1986/05/11/magazine/the-callings.html