Finding Hope When You Feel Hopeless

This couldn’t be happening. Not again. Not ever.

My heart beat wildly as I pressed a firm hand to my chest. Like lapsing waves, one hardship rose after the other, sweeping me into a sea of despair.

Anxiety. Depression. Disease. Inability to conceive. Now this.

Panic threatened to overwhelm as inflammation increased and my knee swelled for the third time. After four years of ceaseless prayers, all my hope for the future was shattered.

Again.

I thought I was getting better. But I was still broken.

Tears spilled onto my cheeks as I sank to the floor. Flashbacks of wheelchairs and home confinement flooded my mind, crippling my heart.

In one swooping moment, my thoughts went down the drain, sucking my emotions in with it. The familiar tape began to roll right on cue.

You’ll never get better. It’s impossible. This will always be your life.

Hope deflated. Confidence obliterated.

Did God forget about me? Would He ever fulfill His promises? Did I even hear Him right? Where is my miracle? My victory? 

There is temptation in the in-between place, that season between tragedy and triumph. Faith and hope wane in the midst of hardship and heartache. When circumstances are confusing and the waiting is long, I am tempted to despair. To give up hope. To believe there is no good future and that God’s promises will never come to pass.

As we celebrated Easter last week, I wondered: did the disciples’ world fall apart when Jesus died? 

They thought Jesus would deliver them. Instead, He hung on a cross. When their “once possible” suddenly crossed the threshold of “never going to happen”, did their hope start to falter? Did fear overwhelm their faith? Did their dreams die with Jesus that day?

Only John stood at the foot of the cross (John 19:26-27). Where were the others? Hiding in a room, overwhelmed with fear and doubt (John 20:19).

There is tension between the seen and unseen. When circumstances contradict God’s character, my doubt creates fear and fear weakens my faith. Like the disciples, when I focus on what I see instead of what remains to be seen, I lose sight of hope and the work God is doing in my life.

But God prefers the impossible. In fact, it’s His specialty.

Sometimes God delays what seems good in order to do something great.

What looked like a tragedy to the world was in reality the salvation of all mankind. In that three-day period between tragedy and triumph, God did the inconceivable. While the disciples mourned their loss, God redeemed the lost. On the stage of the impossible, God’s miraculous work and resurrecting power were on display for all to see.

There is resurrection in that in-between place. The story God writes never ends in tragedy. In His story, there is always movement from darkness to light, despair to hope, death to life. God may not rescue me from my pain, but He will always resurrect me in the midst of it.

Even if my body fails, my spirit is renewed day by day (2 Cor 4:16). God will never forget His people. He always fulfills His promises. My hope is then placed, not in the circumstances I see, but in the promises and character of a God I don’t see. For it is by faith we walk, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). And those who hope in Him will never be disappointed (Isa 49:23).

God sees my life. He’s still writing my story. And the future He has planned is still good. He will use all circumstances for my good and His glory (Rom 8:28). Even if I can’t see it. Especially when I can’t see it. For God’s miraculous power is best displayed in our hopeless, in-between places.

Will we choose to focus on what we see or on what remains to be seen?

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13

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