I’m not an optimistic person.
I know, I know, those of you who know me are shocked. The truth is I’d like to be an optimist, I just don’t think it will happen.
Although I prefer to call myself a “realist” in lieu of being a self-proclaimed “pessimist”, I think it is more accurate to say I don’t pretend life is easy. While it’s true that I have a pretty cushy gig as a stay-at-home mom in a first world country, the fact remains that life, to some degree, is hard for everyone on every continent. And that’s because we are all dealing with unmet expectations.
The orphan on the streets of Ethiopia‘s impoverished capital is disappointed he can’t find food to dull his hunger.
The pastor at a mega church in Memphis, Tennessee, is disheartened to see congregants file out of his church each week, no more excited about the Lord than when they came in.
The young parents are devastated when their three-year-old is killed by a drunk driver.
The corporate manager is discouraged when he is abruptly laid off.
We all get gut-kicked in life. Things don’t work out the way we plan. We get broadsided by inconveniences and tragedies alike. Life gets interrupted sometimes. Our expectations are often left dangling in the wind.
And we feel hopeless.
We start to believe life will never be good again, or at least not as good as it was. We simply cannot conceive of how our current disappointment could possibly work out for our good (Romans 8:28).
We despair that we will never be fulfilled again. Surely what we had or what we want is what is best for us (Genesis 3:6). And, yet, God is showing us that we cannot have it (Genesis 3:3)… “I will never be happy again,” plays over and over in our minds, becoming less of a statement of emotion and more of a statement of fact with each repetition.
We become convinced that the pain will never lessen. How could it? Everything has changed; there is no going back; the pain will always be…
We cross over from feeling hopeless to acting hopeless… and Satan smiles.
He has accomplished his objective.
When Satan can get believers to buy the lie that things are hopeless, we start living hopeless lives. We stop living in light of the hope that is Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). And, in turn, we stop showing the world why He is worth following.
Contrary to whatever hopeless feelings we may be experiencing, those of us who have a relationship with Jesus have been called to hope. In Ephesians 1:18, Paul says, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which [God the Father] has called you.” Pray that for yourself or anyone else you know who is battling hopelessness. That chapter goes on to describe the hope to which believers have been called as, “the riches of [God the Father’s] glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Our hope is based on the facts that we will receive eternal life in the future AND that we have God’s incomparable power on our side in our present circumstances.
The exact same power that raised Christ from the dead is FOR us in this life (Ephesians 1:20)!
It’s hard for me to feel hopeless about anything when I am living in that truth… Believers have access to the most genuine hope there is. It is not fluffy, “think positive”, mind-over-matter, “I think I can” garbage. It is authentic hope that is as trustworthy as the Source from which it comes. It is real, and we can live in it if we choose.