Hopelessness can be catalyst for interest in God

Someone once said, “You can live a few weeks without food. You can live a few days without water. You can live a few minutes without oxygen. But you can’t live a second without hope.” Hope is central to survival.

Hopelessness is a catalyst for interest in God. In the Old Testament, God sent prophets to the people of Israel. The prophets would challenge them, preaching, “Repent, return to the Lord your God.” The people would run the prophets out of town.

The people would continue to turn away from God. They were caught in materialism. They turned to idols. Their lives began to fall apart. Israel became unraveled in corruption. Their existence became dismal.

Ultimately, they lost hope. To lose hope is to abandon your expectation for the future.

When Israel became hopeless, God sent the prophets again. This time the hopeless people listened. They were hungry for hope.

Here is an experiment you can do. Think about those in your immediate social network: friends, relatives, neighbors, or those at work or school.

Identify those who are practicing Christians. Ask them if they have hope in the future. As people of faith, our hope is in Christ.

Ask those who are not practicing Christians, “What do you think life will be like for your grandchildren?”

This is what you are likely to hear: “What do I think life will be like for my grandchildren? Well … not very good.”

You don’t have to ask, “Why?” Just remain silent, and they will define their answer: “Our world is crumbling. The lawlessness, the broken families, Wall Street corruption, gridlock in the government, global warming, terrorism ….” The list goes on.

What are they saying? They are saying they are hopeless. Many people in our world today feel hopeless.

What does that mean? It signals that they are receptive. They are hungry for hope. They are open to receive Jesus Christ into their lives. They are open to discuss spiritual matters.

When a nation is hopeless, God is ready to act and the people are ready to respond. It means the nation has reached bottom. The nation is now ready for a move of God. Whether it is an entire country, a family or a friend at work, hopelessness is your invitation to share the love of Jesus.

Remember that Bible verse that says, “Always be ready to share the hope that is within you”? It is from 1 Peter 3:15.

Hope has power when hope is lost. When a nation grows hopeless, it is because many have put their hope in something other than God.

It was Napoleon who said, “Leaders are dealers in hope.” Another word for “leader” is “influencer.” If you want to influence someone you know to consider the love of God in Christ, watch for hopelessness. When you sense that someone you know is without hope, it is a signal for you to share your hope in Jesus Christ.

Right now, there are many hopeless Americans. This is your opportunity to share the real power of hope.

Larry Gember is pastor of St. James Lutheran Church in Greenfield. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.