The Monthly Encourager:
Christ-Centered Encouragement for Wounded Hearts

A Letter to a Friend: Hope Enclosed
September, 2007

Dear Grieving One,

You told me recently that you often struggle with a sense of hopelessness. I would like to share with you a few things that I have learned about hope over the last six years. Since Stephen died, I have often been tempted to give up hoping, to give up caring, even to give up living. Only God has kept me from sinking into the pit of despair where there is no returning to days of sunshine and smiles. I give God all the glory that today I can smile, laugh, live, and hope.

Many things in this life can tempt us to give up hope. In the midst of our struggles and disappointments, Satan loves to steal our joy and destroy our hope. He is our adversary, a liar, and a thief. He remembers, as we ought to remember, that the Christian's joy is in Christ, and the Christian's hope is in Christ. The deceiver loves to distract us from the true source of our hope. If we put our hope, our confidence, in anything or anyone other than Christ, then we will falter, and our joy will vanish.

While in the throes of grief, I was often tempted to despair. Hope was like a distant planet; difficult to see, it was often lost from my sight. But a certain quote (and I don't even know who said it) would come to my mind and shake me out of my despair. It goes like this: "He who has no hope refuses to believe in God." When I give up hoping, I am an atheist. As long as there is God, there is hope. We cannot always control our circumstances or the people (or children) around us. But while God is on His throne, hope is alive.

Psalm 37:5-7a tells us: "Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Himů" And Psalm 42:8 and 11 instruct us: "The LORD will commend His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me-- a prayer to the God of my life . . . Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God."

One of my favorite movies is Kidnapped, based on the book by Robert Louis Stevenson. On his way to the gallows, and unjustly accused, James Stewart yells over his shoulder to his kinsman, Alan Breck Stewart, "Trust in God, Alan, in His mercy and His justice!" You see, even an innocent man on his way to the gallows can still have hope if his hope is rightly placed in the Lord Jesus Christ. God is on His throne; therefore I will smile, laugh, live, and hope.

Leaning on His Everlasting Arms,