Two months ago, I heard a very moving story on radio, told by a young and brave woman. The story was long and unfortunately, I did not have the time to listen to it. Later on, I typed the lady’s name on google and was pleasantly surprised to read the story in full. She had been abducted on her wedding day, got raped by the abductors, stabbed in the stomach and thrown out of a moving vehicle. She healed after several months and finally got married to her fiancé. Unfortunately, he died 29 days later due to carbon monoxide poisoning and left her a grieving widow. It was such a trying time in her life that she fell into a deep depression. The grace of God that reaches out to us when we are in impossible situations touched her life and she was able to recover completely. She became a pastor, got married and is blessed with a beautiful daughter.
There are many people who like the lady above, have gone through so much in life; they have experienced extreme pains, heartaches, hurts and they no longer have nor believe that there is still hope. In all these instances, God is always there, waiting for them to turn and lean on him for strength. He does care for us and it is when we feel all alone, discouraged and angry that he, in his love for us is nearer than ever. (Philippians 4:13 says that, “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.”) All we need is to keep our hopes alive in him.
Listen to the account Paul gives of the incidents and sufferings he encountered in carrying out the will of Jesus; (“Five times I was given the thirty-nine lashes by the Jews; three times I was whipped by the Romans; and once I was stoned. I have been shipwrecked three times; I have spent a night and day as a castaway at sea. What journeys I have undertaken, in danger from rivers, in danger from robbers, in danger from my own people, in danger from the gentiles; danger in cities, danger in the wilderness, danger in the sea, danger among false brethren! I have met with toil and weariness, so often been sleepless, hungry, and thirsty; so often denied myself food, gone cold and naked. And all this, over and above something else which I do not count; I mean the burden I carry everyday, my anxious care for all the churches.” 2nd Corinthians 11:24-28.) He survived all that and never once did he lose hope. He became one of the most important instruments in spreading Christianity the world over.
God loves us so much that he keeps assuring us in his words. Let us not allow these temporary setbacks to take us away from that love and hope for a better day. God will act if we abandon ourselves to him. Paul the apostle of Christ was such an inspiration! (In Romans 5:1-5 he says; “Since we are justified by faith, let us enjoy peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access, by faith, to that grace in which we stand and we rejoice in the hope of attaining glory as the sons of God. More than that, we rejoice even in our afflictions, knowing well that affliction gives rise to patience, and patience brings hope, and this hope does not disappoint us; for the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.”)
Once we recognize the insignificant and contingent nature of our earthly endeavors, the way is then open for true hope, a hope which upgrades all human work and turns it into a meeting point with God. An inexhaustible light then bathes everything we do and chases away the dark shadows of disappointment. Perhaps there is no greater tragedy for man than the sense of disillusionment he suffers when he has corrupted or falsified his hope, by placing it in something other than the one Love which satisfies without ever satiating. Just knowing that we are sons and daughters of God should fill us with real hope, which, being a supernatural virtue, adapts to our nature when it is infused in us, and so is also a very human virtue.
When you’ve been hit so much with life’s challenges and everything seems to come to an end, never give up. These periods when you feel like it is over for you, do not lose hope. Consider them like a bad chapter in a book that you are reading and if you keep turning the pages, then the chapter ends. God has put an intrinsic treasure in all of us; that of hope so do not quit and keep looking up to him for strength. Let us grow in hope, thereby strengthening our faith which is truly “that which gives substance to our hopes, which convinces us of things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1)