Summary: This message helps identify some of the things that contributes to the feelings of hopelessness. Find out how you can hold onto hope.

A man approached a little league baseball game one afternoon. He asked a boy what the score was. “It’s 18 to nothing - we’re behind.” The man said, “I’ll bet you’re discouraged, aren’t you?” “Why should I be discouraged?” the little boy said. “We haven’t even got up to bat yet.”

Hope is essential to our survival. Webster defines hope as “Desire accompanied by expectation of, or belief in fulfillment; to desire with expectation of obtainment; to expect with confidence.” How vital that expectation and hope is!

When life hurts and dreams fade, nothing helps like hope.

Without hope, prisoners of war languish and die.

Without hope, students get discouraged and drop out of school.

Without hope, athletic teams slump and keep losing.

Without hope, amateur authors will stop writing.

Without hope, addicts return to their habits, married couples decide to divorce, inventors, artists, entertainers, and entrepreneurs lose their creativity.

Without hope, even preachers, and strong Christians, struggle to press on.

Hope is not merely a nice option that that helps us temporarily clear a hurdle. It is essential to our survival. It is something that is as important to us as water is to a fish, as vital as electricity is to a light bulb - hope is that basic to life. We cannot stay on the road to our anticipated dreams without it, at least not very far. Many have tried, but none successfully. Without that needed spark of hope, we are doomed to a dark, dismal existence.

Think for a moment about suicides, or murder-suicides, and how often the word “hopeless” arises in the details of the situation. If it’s not left in a note, you can still read it between the lines. If you take away our hope, our world is reduced to something between depression and despair.

But true hope is hard to come by for some. I’ll tell you why: Because it’s only found in God. And a lot of people aren’t looking there. This week, in preparation, I did an experiment. I typed the word “hope” into a search engine on the computer, and to my amazement, it brought back 22,000,000 returns. (No, I didn’t look at all of them.) But what saddened me was that many that I did look at had nothing to do with real hope. It had nothing to do with the fact that hope comes from, and is only found in God. Hope is a wonderful gift from God, a source of strength and courage in the face of life’s hardest trials.

When we are trapped in a tunnel of misery, hope points to the light at the end.

When we are overworked and exhausted, hope gives us fresh energy.

When we are discouraged, hope lifts our spirits.

When we are tempted to quit, hope keeps us going.

When we lose our way and confusion blurs the destination, hope dulls the edge of panic.

When we struggle with a crippling disease or a lingering illness, hope helps us persevere beyond the pain.

When we fear the worst, hope brings reminders that God is still in control.

When we must endure the consequences of bad decisions, hope fuels our recovery.

When we find ourselves unemployed, hope tells us we still have a future.

When we are forced to sit back and wait, hope gives us the patience to trust.

When we feel rejected and abandoned, hope reminds us we’re not alone…and that we’ll make it.

When we say our final farewell to someone we love, hope in the life beyond gets us through the grief.

And so we desperately need the substance of hope in our lives! We’ve all heard those words - “There’s always hope!” But sometimes, we find it hard to believe them. All of us suffer through bouts of discouragement. In fact, to that “D” word, we could add doom, dishearten, defeat, and despair. The mind dwells on them when life has pinned us down. And I’m glad that we can find such things discussed in the Bible. God doesn’t give us this false sense of “everything will be perfect.” The Bible terms discouragement as “fainting,” or “growing weary.” And it tells us that it is a real part of life.

We may believe that there is hope, but hope is often elusive - hard to get a hold of. It’s hard to hold on to our hope. So for a few moments, I want us to look at some of the things that come against us that tries to loosen our hold on hope. These things have to be dealt with in our life if we are going to maintain hope in our lives. (As we look at these, let me encourage you to go home and read Nehemiah 4, because these things are found there.) What are some of the factors of hopelessness, or discouragement?

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James Parks

commented on Dec 1, 2006

Great truth to build a msewsage on,

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