What to do when you think all hope is lost

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What to do when you think all hope is lost

In the latest in his Voice of Hope series, Fr Alvan Ibeh explores what to do when you think all hope is lost.

Have you ever felt like all hope is lost, and all you want is to call it quits? Have you been waiting on God for an answer to a prayer request you made a long time ago, yet it feels like nothing is forthcoming, and now you feel like the whole situation is hopeless and God is no longer worth waiting for?

Let us look at the story of a man in the gospel of John 5:1-14 and see the message God has for us. 

The gospel reports that there was a man who had an illness which has lasted for 38 years. Jesus met him lying close to the pool of Bethesda, which is believed to have healing powers. The belief is that whoever manages to enter the pool first, whenever the pool is stirred or troubled, will be healed. Well, we are unaware of how many people were healed. We are more interested in Jesus’ encounter with this man.  

Now, when Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed, his answer was not Yes or No, but “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me” (verse 7).

As we can see from his response, he has been coming here every time since he became ill, yet not even a single person has noticed him and offered to help him. Guess they were all busy with their problems, too busy to notice him. Sometimes we are also too busy with ourselves that we don’t see others around us who may need our help.

We can imagine the frustration in the answer this man gave Jesus. But I think this man has something to teach us still. He had been coming to the pool for almost 38 years and yet had no one offering to help him into the pool like others.

Remember, 38 years is a very long time. That he continued coming even when no one was noticing him means that he was not ready to give up even when things seemed hopeless for Him. Can you pause and ask yourself this critical and challenging question: As a Christian, can I wait on God that long? Can I still trust Him when it looks like the future is bleak? Do I think God is worth waiting for? Though the saying goes that there is light at the end of the tunnel, what if the tunnel is getting so long that I can’t see any light? Should I continue to move on? 

After 38 years, this man’s problem had become a way of life. No one had ever helped him. He had no hope of ever being healed. His situation looked hopeless. Who knows, he must have been made fun of and laughed at by some people whenever he couldn’t jump into the pool like others. Imagine the heartbreak, frustration and depression he will be going through.

But all these notwithstanding, when Jesus came, He noticed him straight away, and the gospel says, when Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” (verse 6). Isaiah 49:8 says, “Thus says the Lord: At the time of my favour I have answered you, on the day of salvation I have helped you.”

God has his appointed or favoured time (Galatians 4:4). No matter how long it takes, He is never late but arrives at the right time. Even if it looks like it is taking ages, Habakkuk 2:3 says: “This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed,” (NLT).

He often comes when we are not expecting Him. When it feels like we are feeling hopeless, he comes and restores our hope. God can minister to your deepest needs, no matter how trapped you feel in your problems. Don’t let your situation cause you to lose hope. Don’t give up too soon because giving up is never an option. Stay faithful to God’s promises for you in his word, and He will come through for you. Remain blessed.