The Solution to Despair

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“God, I feel hopeless. How do I even begin to pray?”

Then, as softly and gently as a whisper, I heard His voice, “May the God of hope, fill you.” 

Shocked, I asked, “Can I expect an infusion of hope? Is this a promise to which I can cling?” With an eager search, I found this fragment nestled within Paul’s epistle to the Romans. “Now may the God of hope (Greek: elpis) fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope (elpis) by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

Elpis. Hope. Expectation. Anticipation. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says all New Testament usage of this word is toward an expectation of positive good. “To anticipate, usually with pleasure.” 

Pleasurable anticipation. This is just what my weary soul needed. “Thank You, Father, for sending Your timely Voice,” I responded. “But, how may I best access Your hope?”

My eyes fell again on the same chapter in Romans, and He answered my meager question as quickly as I’d asked it. “Through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). Two actions are necessary on my part. First, rather than hoping in a situation or person to change, I must have a steadfast, constant, targeted endurance that hopes in Him. Secondly, that hope expands as I cling to His Word. 

Too often, my prayers are scratching and beggarly, demanding that I gain my desired result. My emotions hinge on the outcome. I am happy when I get what I want and upset when I do not. I measure the success of prayer by how nearly God’s solution aligns with my desire

Think of the importunate widow in Luke 18. Wasn’t her tenacity and intensity encouraged by Jesus Himself? But, on closer inspection, I see that her hope was not in the result, but in the man (the judge — Luke 18:2-3). When she laid her case at his feet, she also gave him the burden of resolution. Her expectation lay totally on him.

Prayer lays the burden of resolution on God Click To Tweet

Do I hope in my heavenly Father like this?

The aged apostle writes, “If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14). As John looked back over years of answered prayer, this beloved disciple knew the value of having His Father’s ear. John emphasizes the words, “He hears us” by repeating them twice in this magnificent promise.

When I pray, I skip to the second portion of this promise, knowing that if He hears, then I get (1 John 5:15). But in rushing to the answer, I’ve missed the blessedness of the Almighty Ear. Prayer’s success isn’t first measured by the answer. My triumph in prayer is that He “bends down to listen(Psalm 116:2 NLT). My rambling words of incomplete understanding can touch God’s Heart!

The success of prayer isn't first in the answer, but in the fact that God bends down to listen Click To Tweet

Herein is hope. Not that I see every person healed or every relationship mended. Not that my lifetime sees every enemy surrender or every sorrow subside. My answer for hope is so near that I’ve been looking straight past Him. The nearness of God is the very best answer in every situation, and He has promised to show up every single time I call (Psalm 73:28; 34:17).