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When there is No Hope

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation.

— Psalm 42:5

“What’s the use?” Jeff said to me. “I’ve tried many times to work for God and to accomplish great things. No matter what I do or how hard I work, I end up failing.”

“I vowed that I would set aside time for God every day,” Pam said. “That was my only resolution for the year.” She shrugged. “It’s now April, and I stuck with my plan for about three weeks. I never complete most of the important things in my life.”

Jeff and Pam are only two examples of people who feel hopeless. They know what they want to do, but they still don’t accomplish what they desire.

There is no one way we can explain all failures, but both of these believers had reached the place of hopelessness. They were sure they couldn’t do it. “I’ve tried before, and I failed,” they each said. They saw no point in trying again.

“Okay, so I try again and then I fail again,” Jeff said. “I already feel bad; why would I want to feel worse?”

He didn’t realize that negative thoughts and words were the cause of his own failure. Satan was there to attack and discourage him, but he did most of the work himself through an attitude of hopelessness.

“I end up failing.” Those were Pam’s words. “I never complete most of the important things in my life,” is the way she said it.

By their own words, Jeff and Pam had prepared themselves to fail. And their words weren’t the only thing that doomed them. It was the thoughts behind the words.

Discouragement destroys hope. Failure easily leads to more failure. And once we allow our minds to say, “This is the way it will always be,” Satan has won a victory over us.

I urged Jeff and Pam to examine their thought life. “For now,” I urged, “don’t focus on the outcome or the result of your action. Go back to your attitude and your thought processes.”

As we talked, it became obvious that Jeff expected to fail. Satan had already enslaved his mind. Of course, he failed. He got just what he expected. The same was true for Pam. Both of them thought failure and focused on failure. They expected nothing else. They were afraid they would fail right from the beginning, and the Bible says that what we fear comes upon us (see Job 3:25).

“Ask yourselves,” I said, “what kind of thoughts have you been thinking?” If we change our thoughts, we can change our outcome. Jeff and Pam both believed they would fail, but I wanted them to believe they could succeed.

Jeff made great progress over the next few weeks. Whenever he started on a new project he would say, “Things are going a little slow, but I’m making progress. Yesterday was difficult, and I started to feel discouraged. I even felt a little sorry for myself. But that was because I chose wrong thinking.”

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The same was true for Pam. She said, “I now refuse to be discouraged. Last Tuesday night as I crawled into bed, I realized I had rushed so fast all day that I had taken no time to spend with God, and I was too tired then.” She asked God to forgive her, adding, “Help me not to give up.”

Pam realized that she had failed once last week and twice the week before. She reminded herself that she had been faithful the other days. That gave her hope. “It’s not 100 percent victory, but it’s a lot better than zero.”

Both Jeff and Pam finally realized a powerful truth, and we need to understand it, too: Jesus does not condemn us; we condemn ourselves. We allow discouraging, disheartening thoughts to fill our minds. Now we need to be aware that we can push those thoughts aside and say, “With Your help, Lord Jesus, I can make it.”

Prayer Starter: Lord Jesus, with Your help, I can make it. With Your help, I won’t be discouraged and feel hopeless. With Your help, I can defeat every wrong thought that Satan slips into my mind. Thank You for victory. Amen.

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