A few years ago I lost a sister to suicide.
She was one of 10 children and the next oldest to me. So it hit me pretty hard. I am pretty good at hiding how I feel inside for the most part but that hit me quite hard. So for a few years now I have been working at putting this preoccupation to bed as they say, and get it out of my thoughts. When my oldest brother told me about it I remember asking him, why?
His answer was, “no hope”. So many have lost their way to hope. Hopelessness and cynicism have become epidemic in our culture and in the church as well, unfortunately. Hopelessness is a sense of despair and dread. Hopelessness is correlated with suicide, depression, self-harm, and belief of being socially undesirable, useless and unable to cope with one’s current circumstances. Hopelessness has been, is and can be an unrelenting teacher. The lesson of these past few years is that government, the economy, politics, and social awareness will not secure our future.
So, how do we get to hope? What does the road to hope look like? Like every journey, the road to hope begins with knowing who and where we are. So who are we? We are human beings put here for a purpose. When Jeremiah the prophet became frustrated with what he was experiencing he was pleading to God for understanding and God’s answer to him was “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” What has that to do with hopelessness and depression?
Well we have been lead astray by the establishment.
The religious establishment in particular. We can’t cope with our current situation and are depressed but we are encouraged to come to Christ and He will solve our problems. We are told to turn our lives over to him, to allow Him into our hearts and all kinds of other silly notions that are not found in Scripture.
And as we try all these things out and fail, (they don’t work), it only makes the whole scenario worse then before because now we add failure to the collection. The Bible tells us that because of the fall in the garden, all Adam’s descendants are born spiritually dead. We have no contact with the one who created us because He is Spirit. The only way we can have communion with him is by being born spiritually.
How does that happen? A dead man can’t raise himself from the dead. At the fall as the narrative declares to us, man sinned through disobedience and ran from God. That has been the problem of mankind since. The narrative there also reveals to us that God came looking for Adam and Eve and found them hiding in the bushes. We don’t want the God of creation, the God of the Bible, the God of salvation.
We all want a god of our own making. No wonder things never turn out. So who are we? We are depraved in our very nature being spiritually dead. God is sovereign. So how do we open communication with a righteous and just God? First by acknowledging that we are hopeless, totally bankrupt and we can offer nothing for our salvation. As soon as we think that we can bring something to the table with regards to our salvation, we are saying that God’s provision now depends on us that God is really not all powerful after all.
The only way we can arrive at a place where we can put away hopelessness and depression is to realize that creation was all of God, salvation is all of God and He is in control of all that happens. When he allows things to happen to us because we disobey His commands, He uses circumstances to correct us and educate us and improve our understanding.
We respond saying how can God allow this or that to happen? If you are reading this and feeling so hopeless that you are pondering harming yourself, then call your pastor, friend, or family member. As hopelessness gets its voice, you will want to isolate yourself and pull away from reality and from God and others. Suicide, isolation, and self-harm are never God’s desire for you.
An honest look at your condition may sound risky in our culture of “be positive” and “just try harder.” Hopelessness comes when our hope is in something unreliable or incapable of meeting the deepest longings of our lives. The unexpected road to hope begins with the realization that our schemes do not work and are not capable of taking the sorrow of this fallen world away. Ironically, hopelessness is the first step to finding REAL hope.
God never intended us to be fully satisfied by the things of this life. God does not want lesser gods to preoccupy His children.
We were created for relationship with God; therefore, we long for that restored relationship with God, as well as with others and ourselves. Once we take the pressure off our spouses, our kids, our jobs, family and friends or our governments to meet our deepest longings, then we can begin to enjoy them for what they can provide. We will never get to hope if we believe that merely changing circumstances is the answer.
The road to hope requires gratitude and prayer. It is impossible to have gratitude and hopelessness simultaneously.