She was young, finishing high school, and so in love! Her boyfriend had joined the Armed Services, and she put her time in waiting for him to return. But while waiting, someone stepped in, and her mom told her she needed to marry. With dread, buckets of tears, with no skills for housekeeping, hygiene or parenting, she did as her mom said. When children came, she thought every act of defiance was because she was a bad mom. Finally, she broke. Not taking the children because she didn’t know how she would feed them, she left for a few days. But she was stopped from going back, and it was only one full day until she realized, bad mother or not, her kids were her life. One year, then two, passed. She couldn’t get her children back, and there was no hope. Jobs were scarce, and life was an endless tunnel of pain. Every child she saw was hers, and to see someone hurt a child was beyond pain. Finally, knowing life would always be this way, she bought two big bottles of sleeping pills and took them all, then laid down on her bed. The next morning she woke in ICU. Someone had found her. The nurse bustled over. “I see you’re awake! We lost you so many times last night, they were ready to give up!” What she thought was great news, made the girl go further into depression. When you’re on the bottom and can’t even control death, a new low comes into your life. That is hopelessness.
The pastor spoke quietly. “Everyone falls into one of two categories” he said. “You are either hopeful, or you are hopeless.” What a truth! Although most could only grasp the words on a superficial level, I knew there would be many in the huge congregation who understood exactly what he was saying. I knew of a woman who lived with such verbal abuse that I was amazed she had not turned to alcohol or drugs to kill the pain; another leads the life of wife to a womanizer, as the term is; another’s husband is so wrapped up in pornography that he allows his child to see it; and so many more horrific situations. Do you fall into any of these? Why does the victim stay? Because, although the life seems hopeless to us, there is a tiny flame inside that “hopes” a miracle will happen and they will some day escape.
On the other hand, there are families where everything seems to be great. The women lead useful, stay-at-home lives, caring for the children and home, and Dad brings home enough that the income covers the outgo, with some left. They have tons of hope! Where did the original road start? In their parents’ home? In their wise choices?
I know a girl who married someone who was Romeo and Sir Lancelot rolled into one! That is, until the morning of the marriage when he said, “I can’t go through with this.” Everyone figured “cold feet.” For over twenty years he has abused her verbally in front of the children, with words that no woman should have to hear. But she, like the girl in the opening true story, had no skills, and couldn’t take the children. Another young lady came to me to talk: she had married her “sweetheart” almost two years before. She is a Christian, and he supposedly was as well. However, when she came, she broke down as she admitted that the night of their marriage, he had rolled on his side and gone to sleep. In almost eighteen months, he had not consummated the marriage. There was no marriage, and I felt she had every right to get out. She did, and eventually married again. She and her pastor husband have two beautiful children, and I think of her often.
But there’s the flip side: the ones for whom no bell tolls, no tunnels end, and life is more than they can cope with. To end it seems so much the better, and they do.
Where, then, is the hope? We who know Jesus Christ as Lord know the scriptures that tell us He came to this world as a babe, because there was no other way to redeem lost mankind. He had to live among us, talk our language and live with us in order to reach us. And He did. He is the “hope of the world; the hope of all mankind; the hope of the Gentiles; the God of Hope” and many, many more! We have assurance that this life is temporary, that the trials here are because people prefer to choose their own way, rather than listen to the Creator God. He is our Hope, our Peace, and breaks every barrier down. No, life will not be a bed of roses–in fact, I can’t imagine more things more uncomfortable that laying in a bed of roses! Ouch! But neither can I imagine anymore a life where He will not take the useless and base things of this world, and turn them into something beautiful if we ask. The Bible tells us that He will give us “Beauty for ashes.” “The oil of joy for mourning.” How can one not “hope” with promises like that from the God whose promises have not failed yet? But you have to seek Him to find Him, and draw near to Him, so that He draws near to you. He will not force His presence where it is not wanted.
Hope for the Hopeless… He is!
Father, thank You for Your promise of hope for a fallen world. We cannot change our government, our parents, our intelligence, even our race or our appearance, but we can change the way we view You, view life, and we can hold fast to the way we trust You. You have promised wisdom to those who ask it, Lord, and for Christmas, I ask for wisdom to share the hope that lies within me–hope for a better tomorrow. Amen