Hope when despair seems imminent…

Have you experienced a time when despair seemed imminent {looming, forthcoming, impending}? If despair is overtaking your hope in this season – this post is for you.

There are many hope-in-despair stories in God’s Word to encourage us. 

One of my favorites is found in Jeremiah. The people of God continued to rebel against Him throughout the Old Testament. He gave them opportunity, repeatedly, to remain faithful to Him.

But they didn’t get it.

Or, they didn’t want to. Enter Jeremiah, the prophet, appointed by God. The words Jeremiah delivered to the people were harsh and bleak – siege, destruction, exile, captivity, and no quick end.

Understandably, Jeremiah’s message was not well-received. Eventually, the king had him thrown in prison to keep him quiet and help maintain the morale of the people.

Despair was imminent.

Any day now, the city would be overthrown and the Jews hauled off to Babylon. Suddenly – in the middle of this imminent despair – Jeremiah began negotiations to purchase a field outside Jerusalem. Seems especially crazy considering most commoners were rarely permitted to own property.

So, why did Jeremiah choose this moment {while in prison, mind you}?

The palace and the city will be deserted, and busy towns will be empty…until at last the Spirit is poured out on us from heaven. Then the wilderness will become a fertile field, and the fertile field will yield bountiful crops. – Jeremiah 32.14-15

I believe there were two reasons Jeremiah purchased the field: 1) To confirm God’s promise that though Jerusalem’s destruction and exile to Babylon was imminent, He would one day restore their homeland and allow them to return; and 2) By enacting his personal business of buying the field, Jeremiah was demonstrating his Hope for tomorrow.

Here’s another *hope-in-despair* story.

I’m reminded of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pastor, theologian, and professor. Bonhoeffer authored several books, including the Cost of Discipleship, which continues to shape our faith today.

Out of great concern for his homeland, Bonhoeffer became involved in the German resistance of Hitler and Nazism. He was arrested in 1943 and spent the rest of his days in a concentration camp.

How did Bonhoeffer demonstrate *hope-in-despair*?If despair seems imminent and hope is almost lost, here are reminders of Hope we find in Advent. Find life and Hope this Christmas & always.

  1. During his incarceration, witnesses confirmed Bonhoeffer would often preach to and pray with fellow prisoners – sharing with them *Hope-in-despair*.
  2. He also continued to write, including the infamous Ethics, from his jail cell – sharing *Hope-in-despair*.
  3. While imprisoned, Bonhoeffer, almost forty at the time and having never been married, proposed to his girlfriend by letter – compelling them both to live with *Hope-in-despair*.
  4. It was reported just prior to his execution, that Bonhoeffer ¹asked a fellow-inmate to relate a message [which said] ‘This is the end – for me the beginning of life.’ – declaring, while dying, his *Hope-in-despair*

This is the end – for me the beginning of life. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

You can have Hope when despair seems imminent.

The Hope of the world has come, you know. Even if the word you’ve received is harsh and bleak, Hope has come – and Hope sees beyond the immediate despair to the future promise.

As you move through this season of Advent, waiting, lamenting, hoping, believing – life around you may look like it’s falling apart. Despite the joy and merriment, the shopping and eggnog, and the packages and bows, despair may seem imminent {looming, forthcoming, impending}.

Lift your eyes and look!

He comes to the manger – as the babe of Bethlehem. He comes to the people – riding into the city on a donkey. He comes to the banquet – turning the water into wine. He comes to the cross – taking our sins upon Him.

And He comes up from the grave – that we can have Hope when despair seems imminent.

This is our Hope, at Christmas and always. Blessed be the name of the Holy One of Israel – He comes. And at the end of this life, we begin the rest of our life with Him.

¹Biography Online – Dietrich Bonhoeffer Biography

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4 thoughts on “Hope when despair seems imminent…

  1. This is an important word for God’s people, and I’m so glad you shared it with us at Grace & Truth. Too often we allow our perspective to be limited by our circumstances. What a tiny world we make for ourselves! Setting our eyes on things above and recalling to ourselves the future hope that we have in Jesus’ return is an important aspect of holding on to the joy that so often eludes us.

  2. This lifted my spirit today!
    Thank you for wonderful encouragement.
    Loving this series.
    Mary, New Zealand.

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