The one calming factor on the uncertainties of life is hope.
One day, Billy Joe Bryan and I decided to do some spelunking in a large cave near our homes in Lewisburg, W.Va. Billy Joe was an energetic and intelligent teenager, and I served at his church as youth pastor. We entered the cave that day with one flashlight, which had old, weak batteries.
Our intent was to explore the cave no deeper than which we could easily keep our bearing. But, it was not long until our awe and curiosity extended our search farther than we intended. We found ourselves somewhat uncertain on the direction out.
After a few “It is this way! No! It is this way!” assertions from each of us, Billy Joe stopped, turned off the flashlight, and said in chilling tones, “Ron, I think we made a wrong turn!”
The hand of darkness slapped the side of my mind, and I sat right down on an unseen rock that was apparently positioned just for me for that specific point in time. The cave was so dark that I could not see my hand when placed against my face.
Until that moment, I had never experienced darkness that had the sense of thickness. It seemed as though you could hold the darkness in your hand. Furthermore, until that moment, I had never known panic of the sort fear was pumping into my mind. My breathing became noticeably short and rapid. I suddenly wanted out of that cave right then! Up or sideways — it did not matter. I wanted out!
Fear feeds on feelings of hopelessness. My mind was on the verge of wild imaginings.
But, then, like a hero with impeccable timing, hope rushed in. My wife, Terry, knew where we were. Billy Joe’s mother knew where we were. We would eventually get out one way or the other. If we could not find the way out ourselves, help would come and lead us out. No need to fear. There was hope.
Hope brought courage. Our situation was no big deal. Hope brought rationale. We mentally and calmly retraced our steps. Yet, these uncanny concepts concerning hope found in the depths of that cave find the greatest expression of effect in none other than Jesus Christ.
For example, a believer in Jesus Christ is never in a hopeless situation!
Even if Billy Joe and I could have never gotten out of that cave on our own, we still would not have been in a hopeless situation. Even if you are told you have an incurable disease and that you are going to die, you are not in a hopeless situation. Even if you are informed of the darkest potential prospect, you are not in a hopeless situation.
Why? Because Christ has given to us an eternal hope that transcends this life. Because of Christ, every circumstance for the Christian is hopeful, not hopeless. Because of Christ, there is always a better day, a better way, a better time and a better place. Because of Christ, there is no darkness with enough density to douse the light that the hope of Christ gives.
Isaiah 26:3-4 affirms it: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” Thus, the hope God gives through Christ calms the worst fears. The hope God gives through Christ deflates those rising feelings of hopelessness. The hope God gives through Christ dissipates wild imaginings. The hope God gives through Christ brings light to apparent darkness.
The reason God gives such good hope is because He knows how much we need a sure hope to countermand the uncertainties and disappointments that life throws our way so many times. The bad things of life are not God’s fault! The bad things in life are because the devil and his evil want to keep us off guard from trusting God. Learn who the real criminal and culprit is when it comes to adversity. God gives hope that you cannot beat with a stick.
I prefer having hope!
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.