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Ed Jordan: Hopelessness or Hopefulness?

Posted: 5/3/17 at 10:25am. Column by Ed Jordan.

The other day I read an interesting paragraph written by G.K. Chesterton. He challenged his readers to disengage from their pessimistic worldview for merely an hour, even if by choosing to “dream for one mad moment that the grass is green.”

From listening to news reports, one could figuratively assume that there is no green grass left anywhere in this world; there is only burnt earth. That viewpoint is a symptom of people who are held in the grip of hopelessness. Hopelessness is the absence of hope. But is it really true that there is no hope? Is all the grass in the world brown, even in springtime?

How did the world become so hopeless, you might ask? If we would be honest for a moment, and actually step outside our preconceived conclusion that the sky is falling, we can trace the source of hopelessness back to ourselves.

How do people arrive at the conclusion that life is without hope? Is it because the world is currently a mess, and we seem helpless to set it right? What is the source of the mess, and why do we feel unable to change things? Is it not because there is a deep-seated mindset that has prohibited hope from being considered as a part of the solution?

The development of this worldview has been a long process. You see, hopelessness, by definition, is the absence of hope. Whenever we close God out of our worldview, out of our lives, and out of our society, then we close hope out of our world.

If we live in hopelessness, we declare that there is no hope, because the events are unchangeable.

While we all occasionally feel that some circumstances may seem hopeless, situations only become hopeless when we remove God and hope from the solution formula for addressing those problems.

But God is not limited by what limits us. God can step into the situations of our lives, and whenever he injects himself into our situations, there is hope that things can change. To acknowledge hope is to acknowledge that there is a God, and God is not incapacitated by our finiteness nor our impotence. Expunging God from our lives, culture, and worldview expunges hope.

So in reality, the world becomes hopeless when it is godless. I do not mean this as a statement of morality (or immorality), but rather I am referring to a worldview that sees the world as a closed system where there is no God to intervene or change things. That worldview denies God, making people god-less, which thus eliminates hope and leaves one hope-less.

For decades our culture has made a purposeful effort to negate the reality of God, i.e. belief in the existence of God in our world, and ironically thereby have eliminated the one real basis for hope.  Whenever a people, or culture, negates God from life, they also negate hope, and they therefore end up hopeless because they have no God and no one to change their miserable existence. In Ephesians 2:12 (ESV) we read that before people became Christians, we were all “separated from Christ … having no hope and without God in the world.”

But when we follow Jesus, our hopeless lives change into hope-filled lives. Peter stated this in 1 Peter 1:3-5: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

So now, believers in Jesus do not live as people who are without hope! Christians daily experience Jesus living within them, working in and through their lives, answering prayers and intervening in many of life’s seemingly “hopeless” situations.

A world alive with God is a world filled with hope. God and hope neutralize hopelessness, because nothing is impossible with God. How is the level of hope in your life today? Do you live without God’s hope and thus in hopelessness, or does God’s presence in your life fill you with hope?

ed-jordan2Award-winning columnist Dr. Ed Jordan is pastor of Gwynn’s Island Baptist Church, Gwynn, VA. You may also read his past columns.

He can be reached at szent.edward@gmail.com.