United Church of God

Hope: When All Seems Hopeless

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When All Seems Hopeless

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Hope: When All Seems Hopeless

MP4 Video - 1080p (1.61 GB)
MP4 Video - 720p (995.62 MB)
MP3 Audio (30.47 MB)

The hope God offers is sure and absolute. It can break chains of doubt and discouragement and help us to look confidently past our hardships to the glory we will experience in God’s coming Kingdom.


If you asked a number of people what essential qualities would contribute to a good life, what might they say? Well, perhaps they'd say, “I'd like to have peace of mind. I'd really like to...I really want to have excellent health. I want to be content, I want to be happy. I want to feel fulfilled. I want to be financially and physically secure. I'd like to delight in really wonderful relationships with my family and my friends, and my brethren, for us here.” So we all want those things, don't we? I mean, it's just natural that every person on Earth would like those very things. Although seeking after those things, and other fundamental qualities, is good. Actually, experiencing them can prove to be very difficult for many people, due to troubling conditions that they encounter that they're living through.

Even so, as English poet Alexander Pope wrote, he said, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.” Which means that despite impediments and complications people often remain hopeful that they will find a way to receive their wants and their needs to have that satisfaction, they have hoped for that. While this aspiration is very beneficial for humans, all of us, it's important really to have that kind of hope but the obstacles people face can be overwhelming at times. And what can that result in?

Genuine needs, going unfulfilled. These may include, for example, the problems may include, for example, marital or family, or financial distresses that's happening right now in many families. Could be lengthy periods of instability. Living with illness or pain, as I mentioned, we have people watching right now, who are suffering that with chronic illness and pain. Could be losing employment, or housing. Could be suffering isolation, or loneliness. Loneliness is really big. It could mean people feeling rejected, or a medical diagnosis of a serious illness that they're facing, has come to them. And then also, how about the breakup of a relationship, that can be very stressful for many people.

So when disconcerting issues like these go unresolved, especially after long periods of waiting and hoping. Deep discouragement can set in, which can lead people to this hopeless feeling like, there's no point in trying anymore. So what happens after that? Self-harm and even suicide can take place. And if these are not enough, what do people deal with today, the stark reality that, many of the well-established societal values and standards that they counted on are no longer operational, it seems? They've been weakened or even abandoned completely. And then, what about this, government and corporate institutions that formerly were dependable are no longer believed to be worthy of confidence? Happening in our country today.

Such disorders can further discourage people and rob them of confidence, the confidence they need for a stable and reliable future. So when you consider all these things where can people go? Where can they go to find real lasting hope? When troubles pile up and over this overwhelming sense of hopelessness and desperation attempts to crush them. Is there a genuine cure for this frustration and emptiness they feel which threatens to leave them depressed and bitter and completely defeated?

Well, there is, in fact, a marvelous remedy for this condition, which involves something that goes far beyond the hope that people have, that they're familiar with, what is it? You and I know it, you and I have it. It's the divine hope of salvation and everlasting life. It can only come from one source our Eternal Father in heaven. His hope is one of the three great Christian virtues accompanied by love and faith. The hope God offers is so big, so powerful, that when a person has it, and employs it, hopelessness is inconceivable even when facing these major trials, this is God's hope.

God's hope can overpower and conquer hopelessness by completely breaking the heavy chains of doubt and discouragement that can threaten to destroy people's lives. And God's great hope can lift heavy burdens, so individuals no longer have to carry them all alone. Scripture says and Jesus said himself.

Matthew 11:28 He said, “Come to me, all of you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

What's he going to give him as well? Hope, right? The hope God supplies can supplement a person's puny human strength, with His mighty energy. So life's disturbing situations can be contented with capably and confidently and wisely. That's what hope can do. The hope God brings is joy, it brings joy, and it brings love into people's lives, a love that they can share with other people. It is sure, it's firm, it's absolute, and can help individuals look confidently past the hardships that they've experienced in this physical life and are experiencing right now. And yes, even beyond the grave, that's the kind of hope that we have it goes way beyond human hope, doesn't it? How's that happened? Because of the resurrection. That's the hope that we have. We talked about that, don't we? When we're missing somebody who's died well, we're looking forward to seeing them again, in the resurrection.

Mr. Shabi just sent a letter to everyone regarding you know, the envelopes that we receive prior to the feast. And he said this, and I quote, “We are all thankful for the knowledge of God's plan, which gives us hope, in a world that is becoming more and more troubled. Hope is greatly lacking in the lives of so many people around the globe,” for sure. But then he quotes Romans 5:1 talking about how we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. That's what we have. That's what we are. That's so great, so wonderful. So while human hope is, you know, it's like wishing without the certainty of fulfillment. The hope that God furnishes will never, never leave people disheartened at all if they've remained faithful, that's the key, right? It's got to be that.

Romans 5:5, I'll just read this from the New Living Translation. It says, “And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His hope.”

Today, let's examine what God's real true hope is all about. The sermon is entitled “Hope when all seems hopeless.” The fact is God holds out His marvelous hope which is far and away, superior than mere human hope, as I mentioned. Indeed the hope God offers human beings is nothing less than how many adjectives can we give it? Superb, magnificent, stupendous that's what God's hope is. That's you and I have that. How great that is, God's hope provides the opportunity for people to keep moving forward confidently despite obstacles. The hope God offers is the absolute guarantee of future success. Think about that. There's a New Testament Greek verb Elpisian explains divine hope means, look at this, a strong and confident expectation. No doubt there, is there? Let's go to Romans 15:13 if you would, Romans 15:13. You know, our creator wants us to be absolutely assured that we will accomplish our spiritual goal of attaining salvation and eternal life, and do so bountifully and joyfully on the journey.

Romans 15:13 It says, “Now may the God of hope, fill you, fill you, with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope.” How? “By the power of the Holy Spirit,”

 abound, that's what He wants us to have. So the Apostle Paul says that God wants you and me to flourish in expectant optimism. To be optimistic beyond anything humanly. It's a godly optimism isn't it? We can cast aside all doubt with God's hope. The hope God offers is sure, it's firm and unconditional. God's hope, he's just looking again, well, beyond the trials and troubles that we experience in life.

2 Corinthians 4:18 This is from the New Living Translation, you don't need to turn there but listen to this. “So we don't look at the troubles we can see now, rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

Now, with all that being said, can we really believe this? How can we have total confidence that during the toughest, and the darkest times we experience in this physical life, that God will be with us every step of the way? How do we know this? It's because what Jesus Christ did for us, our brother and Savior experienced the crushing blows of human brutality and He came out triumphant He did. It's because He endured Satan's worst attacks and succeeded and displacing Him as Earth's ruler. He did this by placing His hope. Jesus did this, placing His hope entirely in His heavenly father who aided Him at every moment. And Christ showed us how we can do the same.

Let's review a bit of this amazing history of Jesus Christ very briefly here. During His life, and especially during His three-and-a-half-year ministry He fully understood the troubles that He would be enduring ahead. Not just during the three and a half years, but all the way through up until that point, I mean, He was always under pressure to do what's right. You know, and near the conclusion of his earthly service, He knew that as He entered the city of Jerusalem before the Passover. That He would soon suffer that horrible scourging and the torture and ignominious death that He would experience on the stake, on the cross. And fully realizing what He was about to face could Jesus have felt despair? I mean, He knew this from the foundation of the earth. Could He have experienced despair and given up hope? The answer is only if He had human hope. But He had the kind of hope that was absolutely...would absolutely, reject hopelessness, and defeat.

Let's consider the scenario that occurred on the night before His death. Jesus prepared for that last Passover meal with His disciples and as He washed their feet and in doing so He showed them. He was great with examples, right? How they needed to wash other people's feet in godly service and humility. And as they ate supper together, Jesus told them that one of them would betray Him and deliver Him into the hands of the corrupt individuals who would seek to destroy Him.

Imagine what it must have felt like for Jesus to realize that one of these men that He had treated as a brother was about to turn on Him in treachery. Imagine if you knew somebody was going to stab you in the back. How would you feel? And knowing all of this in advance did Christ give up hope? Absolutely not. Again, why? Because He had hope from his Father, that kind of hope, not mere human hope. He had perfect hope. And which utterly surpassed any form of human hope, however, that may be.

Later that evening in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked three of His closest disciples to be very close by Him as He prayed. He told them how deeply distressed He was. And He asked them to pray with Him and stay awake. Anticipating, you know, these tortures that He would face in the coming hours, He poured out His feelings to His Father in deep anguish. And He sweats blood as we know as we read in the Scriptures. What happened to the disciples? Well, they dozed off, couldn't keep their heads up, went asleep.

So Jesus didn't get much hope...much help rather from his disciples that evening, the worst evening of His life, you might think. But He did something else. He put all of his hope in His Heavenly Father. Soon Judas and these soldiers came to seize Him. What must have been like for Christ to grasp that He was being identified as a criminal, and even threatened with weapons, a man who never sinned at all? What was He thinking? I mean, imagine what He might have been thinking was, maybe now hope would disappear. No. Unconditionally, no.

As these events transpired rapidly, the disciples ran away and the mob came and took Jesus away to the temple. And their false witnesses came and gave lying testimony, and Christ was insulted and slapped and spat upon at that time. The next morning He was hauled before Pontius Pilate, the governor of the Roman province of Judea. And after horrendous scourging nearly to the point of death, Jesus was forced to carry that heavy stake that would be used to finish off his life. And then he was nailed to it. Was it then that His hope would be extinguished? Again, absolutely not. No way. The fact is His hope lived and proved victorious, as we know because we sit here today, He gave His life for us. And He made it. Why? Because he had the hope that came from the Father and He had that relationship with Him, strong and powerful.

In the midst of incredible unfairness, and during Christ's darkest hour, His example of hopefulness shines through to you and to me today. It's bright and vivid, and a beacon for all of us, having been through the worst possible experience, suffering and dying on our behalf. So we could have our sins forgiven, He never lost hope. If he didn't, should we? Absolutely not. This is because the God-given hope that fills us by God's Spirit, as Christ's disciples is the very same hope that Jesus Christ had His entire life, the very identical hope.

When we're knocked down by life's troubles Jesus offers His example for us. And that's why we really take a lot of time during this period of running up to the Passover to think about this, what He went through what He endured. That example of true divine hope over despair He did this, He went before us and He sends us the strength and the help that we need in our times of trouble so we can be triumphant as well. Having Christ's identical hope can lift our thoughts again, beyond the immediate troubles that we focus on today to His kingdom of God...to His kingdom that's ahead of us. We do that just like Jesus did when He faced those terrible times.

Titus 1:2 if you turn there. So when we're threatened by these clouds of gloom and despair and discouragement, Jesus's example needs to loom large in our minds and hearts. His example and the awesome hope that He displayed and freeing us and freeing all humanity, from the curse of sin can be our motivation to continue striving against sin.

Titus 1:2 It says, “In hope of…” What? It says, “Eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.”

Hope of eternal life. Imagine what that is going to be like. I mean, how do we...can we even imagine it? It's going to be so awesome. But we have a little inkling, the world doesn't have it that you and I do. The great hope of salvation and eternal life is assured if we do something important, we cling to Jesus Christ and His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us even in the worst of times.

And we have people listening in right now who I have my brother-in-law has a sister in Northern California, whose husband has MS and a very debilitating disease. And he can hardly move, can't move anything. His wife has to do everything for her...him rather, I should say, he can't even talk anymore. And then my brother-in-law also has another sister, has a daughter who's 20 years old has MS as well. And she can talk but she's wearing out only at 20 years old. And they're both in the Church. So they got a lot of stuff going on right now, don't they? But they're hanging in there.

But let's bring it down to the sometimes reality that we have in our daily lives. Ideally, we ought to be filled with hope, right? I mean, here we are in the Church. I mean, that's ideal. We ought to be filled with zeal and alive with spiritual energy. As God's people, we should be overcoming and growing no matter what negative factors and influences are working to discourage and frustrate us. Now, that's the ideal, right? But what's the sometimes reality? And I have been there, we all have been there, and do that from time to time. It's, frankly, discouragement. Sometimes we're down in the dumps, right? We feel pretty gloomy. And occasionally, we ask God, where are you when I need you? Ever say that? I have. I've been there, done that.

There's not likely a soul among us here who has not endured some type of personal disorder, and been beaten down by trials and afflictions and illnesses and loneliness or emotional turmoil. Being human and facing such issues we can find that hope can really decline it can weaken, and we can be overcome by that despair. That hopeless feeling even you and I here who have the Holy Spirit that can hit us that way.

But from where do these feelings come from, these hopeless thoughts and attitudes? They can often come from a devil and his demons who have no hope. Satan wants us to be in the same torment and condition in which they exist. He wants to...he's after us. That's where a lot of these things come from. That's where these attitudes come from. He wants to snatch away the hope we have so we can return to a life of gloom and selfishness and sin.

In this regard, let's look at a biblical example let's turn to Exodus 14:3, biblical example, the ancient Israelites who God freed from slavery in the land of Egypt and during the Days of Unleavened Bread. You know, following the Passover, as they were leaving Egypt, Pharaoh being a type of the devil, tried to stop them and return them to bondage and hopelessness. As they journeyed from Ramsay's, they ran into a condition where escape seemed impossible. They found themselves boxed in a canyon with Pharaoh's chariots pounding down upon them.

Exodus 14:3 Says, “For a Pharaoh will say to the children of Israel, they are bewildered in the land, the wilderness has closed them in.”

But it's vital to note that God allowed this situation. God allowed them to be boxed in so as to demonstrate to the people that he alone had the power to deliver them from their enemy. Does God allow a kind of boxing in to happen to us from time to time? When the Israelites realize their predicament, what did they read...? What was their reaction?

Exodus 14:10 It says, “And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord.”

Well, the people knew they needed supernatural help, they were in this canyon they can't get out. They didn't have any way to help themselves. So what they did was good. I mean, they cried out to God. But what happened next? God tested them by not answering their cries immediately. How did they react then?

Exodus 14:11-12 “And then they said to Moses, ‘Because there is no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we were told in Egypt, saying, 'Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?' For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness?’”

So their trust in God completely faltered. Their hope vanished. Can this happen to us today? It certainly can if we are not spiritually awake and alive and close to God. The devil can place obstacles in our way and in an attempt to destroy the great divine hope within us. Has it happened in the Church? Yeah, we know people, all of us do. This is we've seen this happen. Are we vulnerable? I think we better realize we are. It can happen to you, it can happen to me. The devil cannot place those obstacles and just wipe away our hope if we're not careful. But just as God provided a miraculous means of escape through the Red Sea, and destroyed the Egyptian armies in the process, he can help us in any situation we encounter.

God can conquer our enemies, but we must be in close contact with Him. It's not a one-way street. You know, we got to put some effort into this. Just as Jesus did look what He did that night in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was really anxious and He was really depending on his Father even sweating blood and all that, you know. So we may have to do that. Psalm 31:24, if you turn there let's count a few scriptures showing what some righteous individuals in Scripture, what they said and did as they clung tightly to their hope in God.

Psalm 31:24 King David writes here, “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”

Do you and I hope in the Lord? Yes, we do. It's God's great desire that we be filled to the brim with God given hope and courage, knowing that the outcome of our spiritual journey again, is totally secure. Not just a little bit He wants us to be filled to the brim overflowing with this kind of hope, in the midst of terrible things. Psalm 33:18, I had a couple of chapters.

Psalm 33:18 We read here “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, whose hope is in His mercy.”

God is a great God of mercy. And he's looking down at we're just like children to Him, He calls us the children of God, right? You know, we are like children, we need to depend on Him, and He's going to take care of us. So when we know how much God watches over us and helps us, we remain faithful to Him, and His way of life, we can be fully confident that He will usher us into His kingdom safely. King David wrote this, I'll just read this for you in Psalm 38:15, he said, “For in you, O Lord, I hope you will hear, O Lord my God.” Is there any wavering there in David's words? No.

Psalm 39:7 Says this, I'll read it for you as well. “And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in you.” He says, “My hope is in God.”

So when we remain, as we remain joyful, while waiting patiently for God's aid, we can be completely secure and knowing that our hope in Him will be awarded abundantly. And that's what He wants. He's wanting to know what we're going to do. We're going to stick with it. We're going to go all the way, are we going to be filled with the hope that He offers, or are we going to bail out?

Psalm 145:5 Says this, “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for His help. Whose hope is in the Lord, his God.”

That's where our hope has got to be. So through God's divine hope, we can shake off this hopeless feeling that people in the world experience and can instead revel in true happiness. I mean we can be joyful, knowing that we will soon be a member of His family in His kingdom. And this life is short, isn't it? I mean, really think about it. Jeremiah 17:7, if you turn there, another example of a faithful and hopeful servant of God was a prophet, prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah 17:7 here, you know, he was willing to wait patiently and faithfully in unshakable hope, in his creator's promises. And as a result, he set a great example just like Jesus Christ, he set that example for us.

Jeremiah 17:7 Said, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord.”

Not in men, not in other people, not in things, but in the Lord. Jeremiah 29:11 I had a couple of more chapters here. Jeremiah explained that we have no need to fear the future because God will always be there for us, always care for us. He's going to watch over us vigilantly. Jeremiah 29:11. And I've seen this on little plaques, refrigerator plaques, and things like that but it's so meaningful.

Jeremiah 29:11 It says, “For I know the thoughts I think toward you.” Look he's talking to you and me here. “Thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and…” what? “A hope.”

You can count on that. Jeremiah also wrote this and I'll just read to you from Lamentations 3:24.

Lamentations 3:26 He says, “The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I hope in Him.”

So Jeremiah was a great again example. What was he doing? He put everything there in hope in his Father.

Lamentations 3:26 says, “It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

So yeah, okay, we're going to have to wait. So Jeremiah had to wait, didn't he? Yeah, we went through all kinds of tough times. But he's going to be there in the kingdom of God. So he said, “You're going to have to wait.” Yeah, we're going to have to wait sometimes a long time. So God's putting us through the paces. He's testing us. We can examine a few New Testament passages' briefly referring to the hope that God offers us. The apostle Paul again was another great example. One who kept hope alive. And you know how many obstacles he faced, he talks about going into a city and getting thrown out and stoned and everything else. And then he gets up, brushes himself off, and goes back into the city. Man, there's a man there is an example for us. He maintained that hope by keeping his focus on the kingdom of God and was simply and elegantly, he stated in Romans 8:31.

Romans 8:31 “If God be for us, who can be against us.”

I know we've heard that many times, right? Well, it's so true. And Paul showed us, gave us the example here. Paul also wrote about how many...how God wants us to be, again, I mentioned this before overflowing with hopefulness and expectation, and perfect assurance of our future. Romans 15:13 this is from the New International Version. I'll just read it.

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.” Fill you? “So that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Again, not just enough to get by but overflowing. And that's why we have to stir up the Holy Spirit we have Him. We have Jesus Christ living in us, we have to stir that spirit up every day. Are we doing it? Are we asking God for more of His spirit more of the fruit of His spirit? Is that part of our prayers? I think it should be. So Paul encouraged the brethren to keep their eyes focused on the perfect hope that God offers through Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:18 I'll just read this for you again, “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know,” he says, “What is the hope of his calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the states.”

The riches of the glory of the inheritance. Look at these words that just fly and bubble out here. That's there for you and me. Colossians 1:23. If you turn there Colossians 1:23 Paul further inspired the brethren to stay steady, and faithful. Steady and faithful, in the hope of the good news of the coming Kingdom of God even as they dealt with troubling issues. And as we do so today, and you know, we see a lot of stuff happening. I mean, you see banks failing and crazy things that are going on in our world today. And we don't know how long it's going to last, what's going to happen there. But where do we put our trust? Not in banks, not in people, not in institutions, but in God. And that's why we stay close together as faithful brethren, we support each other.

Colossians 1:23 Said, “If indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away.” Ooh, it can happen. “Moved away from the hope of the gospel.”

Yeah, it can happen. That's why we have to be diligent. “The Gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I Paul became a minister.” Paul goes on in verse 27, to explain that it is the living Christ in you, which is the hope of glory. 1 Thessalonians 5:8, if you go there. Additionally, Paul explained that, as God's people, we must effectively dress ourselves in the hope of the gospel. Now, when we get up, get dressed in the morning to go to work or whatever we're going to do we're supposed to do that spiritually as well.

1 Thessalonians 5:8. “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.”

That guards our minds. Are will be doing that? Am I doing it? Paul also described godly hope this way. This is from the contemporary English version.

Hebrews 6:19 “This hope is like a firm and steady anchor for our souls.”

So God's hope steadies us in the violent seas of this life, anchor, it's there to help us. That's the hope that God has for us. So, when we consider all these things, what should we be doing? What should we do? Well, the apostle Peter answers this question by stating in 1 Peter 1:13. This is from the New Living Translation as well.

1 Peter 1:13 “So prepare your mind for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope, in a gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.”

Moreover, Peter explained that we should be willing and eager to share this hope with other people. That's why we preach the gospel. See, you and I have this great knowledge and we got to go out there and show people what we know. And we ought to be praying about that more so than ever, as we see these things happening in our world.

1 Peter 3:15 He says, “You must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks you about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.”

Maybe they're going to ask us, are you ready? Am I ready? Let's turn to one more scripture. 1 John 3:2. 1 John 3:2 the apostle John tells us, that as we grow spiritually, with God's divine help and His awesome hope, we can develop the perfect, pure character that He has.

1 John 3:2 John writes, “Beloved, now we are the children of God and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone…” look at this, “Everyone who has this hope purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

And again, we're going into this period of time when we really examine ourselves, how are we doing? Are we that kind of a...do we have that type of purity in our lives? I don't think we do. We got to get there, right, got to move in that direction.

Finally, unlike human hope, the true hope God offers will keep us moving forward confidently throughout our lives and will actually continue beyond the grave due to the resurrection. That's the kind of hope we have it doesn't end at death at all. God's hope is bold, it's powerful. It radiates total confidence in Jesus Christ left us with this perfect example of hope under terrible distress. And He died and yet he rose from the dead and is fully able. He's right there right at the right hand of the Father right now able and willing to strengthen us when Satan tries to destroy our hope in eternal life.

Therefore, let's Not Fall for Satan's attempts to get us to doubt and to become discouraged. Instead, let's lift our thoughts with God's help beyond today's stresses and strains, and problems, and we can do this by firmly applying the amazing and wonderful hope that God has given us. As we pray, prepare for His great and glorious kingdom. Indeed He wants us to have His wonderful hope, even when all seems hopeless,