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When all seems lost, hold on to hope in God

A Nashville newspaper once published a story about a woman named Hope Phillips who rescued a man from the Wolf River Harbor near Memphis.

Hope and her husband and son were sitting in their car one Sunday afternoon when she saw a man drive his car into the chilly waters. As his vehicle began to sink, he climbed up on top of it.

She recalled that the desperate look on his face seemed to say, “Please help me!” Hope jumped out of her car, ran into the water, and swam toward the man who was about 25 feet from the bank.

Using a tree limb, she pulled him toward the bank and her husband helped drag him out of the water. All the while the man kept saying he wasn’t worth saving. It turned out the man was a student at the University of Tennessee about to give up on life.

When he asked her name, she replied, “Hope.” With a relieved look on his face, he asked her name again, and again she answered, “Hope.” By then the police had arrived and the student was taken to a Regional Medical Center.

Reading about the incident reminded me of something I once heard author/minister Charles Swindoll quote, “We can live forty days without food, eight days without water, four minutes without air, but only a few seconds without hope.”

Without hope, how can we have faith? The writer of Hebrews defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (13:1)

Hope helps us hang on, especially at times when we feel we’re at the end of our rope. When the world around us is shattered by death, disaster or disease, we can still have hope.

This kind of hope cannot come from within us. Our hope must come from Christ living in us. Romans 15:13 says, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Chuck Swindoll has written, “Hope is a wonderful gift from God, a source of strength and courage in the face of life’s harshest trials.” He adds, “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.”

The Apostle Paul’s words, often spoken at funerals for Christians, tells us not to sorrow as others who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). We have a sure and certain hope of resurrection to eternal life. Paul goes on to say that the dead in Christ will rise first and Christians still alive will be caught up together in the clouds and forever be with the Lord.

Lewis Smedes writes, “Believers are not optimists, they are people of hope. Their only reason for so huge a hope is the story of how the Maker of the world once came to His world, died, lived again, and still intends to come back and fix His world once and for all.”

 

Jan White is an national award-winning religion columnist. She can be reached at jwhite@andycable.com.