I don’t know for sure what is going on in anyone’s life that is reading this. However, if I were to guess, then I would say that there are some that you feel that you are in a hopeless situation. As you look at the circumstances surrounding your life, you can’t see any way things are going to improve and you boarding on giving up in hopelessness. Others may not be in a seemingly hopeless situation but knowing that trials come to us all, you may be heading into one. I want to encourage you to make Jesus alone your source of hope because this hope never disappoints us.
I do want to be careful here because while hope in Jesus never disappoints us, this doesn’t mean that He will always do exactly what we want done. Take the Apostle Paul for example.
“At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!” (2 Timothy 4:16-18 NKJV)
Writing from a Roman prison Paul says that in the past the Lord had delivered him from the mouth of the lion and that the Lord would continue to deliver him from every evil work. Yet, he was beheaded shortly after this and never left a Roman prison.
Here are the questions we have to wrestle with. Was Paul wrong about Jesus going to deliver him? Did Jesus fail to deliver him? Was Paul disappointed in his hope in Jesus? The answer to these questions is no.
Paul wasn’t wrong.
Jesus didn’t fail.
Paul was not disappointed.
We must realize that Jesus doesn’t always act in the way that we think He should. He acts in the way that He knows is best and in the way that will bring Him the most glory. In this case, Paul wasn’t delivered from the sword. Instead, Paul was delivered by the sword.
When Paul was beheaded, he was delivered from this life and all the hardships he had faced. He was no longer in prison. They couldn’t torture him anymore. Paul was at this point fully and completely delivered from his thorn in the flesh and from all the bad things that his enemies wanted to do to him. The moment they severed Paul’s head from his body, he went to be with the Savior he loved and had served so faithfully through the years.
There is one thing I am sure of about the moment Paul stood before the glorified Christ in heaven. He wasn’t disappointed. He didn’t stand before the glorified Christ in heaven and say, “Oh, are you kidding? This is all I get?” Whatever else his reaction may have been, you can be sure there was intense joy as his hope in Christ was finally and fully realized.
Just as Scriptures are filled with stories of Jesus miraculously delivering people from certain death, it is also filled with stories of people who faithfully served Jesus, trusted Jesus and were killed anyway. Why? Why do some people experience miraculous healing and others do not? Why was Paul delivered out of so many attempts on his life but delivered through it this time? The honest answer is I don’t know.
What I do know is that when Paul stood before Jesus, he wasn’t disappointed in his hope in Jesus. He didn’t think that Jesus had failed him. He didn’t think that Jesus had let him down. Paul didn’t feel shortchanged by Jesus delivering him through the sword.
I think our ability to accept this comes down to understand the last part of Paul’s statement, “…And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!”
We have to remember is that our hope in Jesus isn’t just in the things that Jesus can do for us. Our hope in Jesus is Jesus Himself. Do we think that Jesus is so much better than anything else that if He chooses to deliver us through the trial instead of out of the trial, will we still think we win?
Let me it this way. If, in the end all we have is Jesus, will we be disappointed? Now obviously not every trial is a life or death issue. But what if…
What if it is a job that is harder than you ever expected and isn’t something you really like? Will your hope persevere? Will Jesus be enough?
What if the conflict goes on longer than you thought it would? Will your hope persevere? Will Jesus be enough?
What if the sickness lingers? What if cancer suddenly shows up and it goes bad. Will your hope persevere? Will Jesus be enough?
What if the loved one you prayed for dies anyway? Will your hope persevere? Will Jesus be enough?
What if you try as hard as you can and your marriage crumbles anyway? Will your hope persevere? Will Jesus be enough?
What if things happen and you are financially ruined? What if you lose everything you have worked so hard to acquire? Will your hope persevere? Will Jesus be enough?
The way we answer these questions will reveal whether Jesus alone is our hope. Jesus gives us hope in hopeless situations and the hope He gives us is Himself. When Jesus is our hope, this hope never disappoints us. The hope that Jesus offers us surpasses anything the world offers us because Jesus Himself is our hope.
This is the hope that sustained the Apostle Paul through the many hardships he endured in life.
This is the hope that sustained the early church through terrible persecution.
This is the hope that sustained the saints of God during the Great Depression.
This is the hope that will sustain us when everything around us seems hopeless.
Jesus is our hope in hopeless times.
For further study read Romans 8:18-25. What point does Paul make in verse 18? How can that be so?