Hope for the Hopeless

Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited. – Jeremiah 17:5-6.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit. – Jeremiah 17:7-8.

At the end of December 2008 there were 11.1 million people that were unemployed in the United States according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In December alone, 632,000 lost their jobs. During the first week of January, New York’s unemployment system crashed when as many as 10,000 people an hour tried to file unemployment claims. In addition, to the known unemployed there are also those who are underemployed. The underemployed may be working but earning much less than they were previously, or working many less hours than they did previously. From my searches on Google the rising unemployment rates appear to be occurring globally and not just in the United States.

Stu Schweitzer a global markets strategist said, “People say they know how bad the economy is, but they don’t know how it feels to have the reality hit home.” How do you continue to have hope and faith when the reality of economic disaster hits your own home? How do you continue on in what may appear to be impossible circumstances? How do you keep from just giving up?

Researchers in Illinois and Maryland have found that people with strong religious faith are less likely to suffer clinical depression. They found strong religious faith had an even greater impact on reducing hopelessness, which typically accompanies and can cause depression. Jeremiah relayed a message from God stating in vivid terms much the same thing. If you are without hope and clinically depressed you will be “like a shrub in the desert.” Even when good comes you will not recognize it, and you will “inhabit the parched places in the wilderness.” But if you trust in the Lord and the Lord is your hope, you will instead be like “a tree planted by the waters.” Even when the bad times, the “drought” comes, those trusting in the Lord will not be “anxious.”

This passage in Jeremiah reminds me of Psalm 1 and from this, we see how we can increase our faith and our hope even during the most difficult of times. From where does eternal life come? From the living water of our God (John 4:10). In Revelation 22 John sees this vision: “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” The waters Jeremiah and the Psalmist are referring to are the waters of life flowing from God. To increase our faith and hope we must put down our roots deep into the things of God growing ever closer to Him.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).”

(How do you continue to have hope and faith when the reality of economic disaster hits your own home?)

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