What To Do When Hope Seems Lost
Have you ever felt like you’ve hit rock bottom? You know, the feeling that things in life just can’t get any worse than they already are. I’m sure we’ve all been at this place in our lives before, and I’m sure we can all admit that this isn’t an easy place to be. Maybe while you’ve been at rock bottom, you’ve felt there’s nowhere else to turn.
I remember feeling exactly like this at the beginning of last year.
At that point, I was in the middle of a painful season of life, and it felt like there was no way out. I remember showing up to church on Sunday morning, and as the worship lyrics came up on the screen, I knew in my head and heart they were true, but because of what I’d been experiencing, they didn’t feel that way. Perhaps you can relate. Maybe you’re even going through something like this right now. If this is what you’re going through, let me encourage you that there is a place you can turn — and that’s to the Lord.
The author of Lamentations certainly knew what it felt like to be at rock bottom, and he acknowledges his affliction. Jerusalem has fallen, which has led him to grieve and lament its destruction. In this trial, he has lost all hope. Lamentations 3:16–18 says:
He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes;
my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.”
It isn’t hard to realize that he has hit rock bottom. As a result of Jerusalem’s fall, he’s been shrunk down to a place of fear, there is no peace, and there is a feeling of hopelessness. These are feelings that many of us find all too familiar. Fearful times often produce a lack of peace and hope in our lives. As we walk through these seasons of life, it may be easy to get stuck there and remain in a place of despair. This is where we can learn from the author of Lamentations. He is despairing, but it leads him to remember his God. Just three verses after saying he has no hope, he says:
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
Only a few verses earlier, this author said hope was nowhere to be found, and now all of a sudden, he says he has hope. How is this possible? Well, he knows that ultimately God is a God of grace, mercy, and steadfast love. He proclaims that God’s steadfast love never ends. This word, translated as steadfast love, is a beautiful Hebrew word. It is used throughout the Old Testament to talk about God’s loyalty, faithfulness, grace, favor, goodness, kindness — and honestly, that list keeps going on. In many ways, this term translated as steadfast love is God’s promise to be eternally gracious, merciful, kind, and forgiving to His people out of His love for them.
Here, the author of Lamentations is calling on the very steadfast love of God as the reason he has hope through this hopeless time. It’s God’s steadfast love that enables him to see that God is faithful and His mercies are new every day. In the middle of his brokenness, he was able to realize the Lord had everything he needed. The same is true for us today. As we go through the most challenging seasons of life, we can bring our circumstances to the Lord, and He will show us that He is sufficient for us.
The Lord can handle anything we bring to Him. We see this in Philippians 4:6–7, which says,
“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
God does not want us to remain in our anxiety on our own during these seasons of despair, but He wants us to bring everything to Him in prayer. He tells us here that He can handle all of our emotions — our anger, sadness, despair, joy, etc. When we do bring our circumstances to the Lord, He is there to meet us with His peace. And His peace is greater than our peace because it surpasses our human understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Christ.
Christ secured this peace for us through His work on the cross and in His resurrection. He is the perfect embodiment of God’s steadfast love who came to earth that we might be set free of our sin. He died the death that our sin deserves so that we might have peace with God by being brought into a relationship with Him through faith. He went through struggles and sufferings of His own and sympathizes with us in our weakness. The list could continue, or as the author of Lamentations says, His mercies don’t end.
As we lament our affliction, we must also remember God’s character and what Christ has done for us. This will lead us to not only acknowledge our pain but also to acknowledge God’s great faithfulness and His new mercies that are available morning by morning. When this takes place in the difficult seasons of life, it ultimately reminds us that Christ is sufficient for us. He has given us all that we need, and our circumstances never change that. If you’re currently lamenting the circumstances of your life, acknowledge the pain. This is good and healthy and right. God can handle anything you throw His way. However, don’t forget to look to the character of God and see that lament allows us to hope.