Finding Hope in a Hopeless Day

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross. - Hebrews 12:1-2

Have you ever been confronted by a hopeless day? I have. It was a day when utter hopelessness was announced to me by circumstance and enunciated by a biting voice that sought to tear my hope away. But that prompted me, dear reader, to call on the One Who is able to teach any of us the words that can turn a hopeless day into a transformed one—to take the “less” out of that word, and leave the remaining gift of an authentic, deep-seated, dynamically sustaining sense of hope.

The reason for such a solid turnaround and genuine infusion of hope is explainable. It’s wrapped up in the three words that are found in the text above: “looking unto Jesus.” In short, “hope” is derived from the direction we look. If we look at circumstances, at ourselves, at the past or at trends—if we look at the situation from any other view than through the lens of faith—we get less. Turning our eyes instead toward God’s redemptive, recovering, restoring possibilities, which are always available through His Son, is the pivot point. Turning to Him is the turning point: “looking unto Jesus!”

That directive, when your hope level is down to low or nothing, isn’t a religious summons; it’s a signpost toward a pathway that will provide two things: a Director and a destination. The first, of course, is the Savior—the Man like no other, because He is God above all—Jesus, who suffered the horrors of a Friday because He was en route to the hope- and joy-filled reality of a Sunday.

His Friday was a pathway toward the Resurrection, even if all we can see on that day is apparent agony and depressing defeat that appears to end with His body being placed in a hopeless hole in the ground. But a succession of statements constitute the trail He blazed as the pioneer—the author, initiator and founder—of our faith. To listen to Him speak from His Cross on that Friday is to learn to walk toward hope.

So come with me as we measure the meaning and consider the counsel of this One Who says, “Take up [your] cross and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). Since His purpose in life was that you and I might have “life, and life abundantly,” and His provision in death was to “save all that are lost and . . . to destroy the works of the devil,” we can count on this: His Cross is the pathway to hope.

Hopeless days happen in the lives of everyone. They come more often than we think we deserve, and they sometimes last much longer than we think we can stand. That’s the reason every disciple of Jesus needs to have a framework for processing hopeless days. And God’s Word directs us to one: “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross” (Heb.12:1-2).

When I see people experience one of life’s hopeless days, I’ve learned to urge them to come again to the Cross. That invitation is not to commiserate over the agonies suffered there, as though Jesus may take comfort in our feeling bad all over again about what happened there. He calls us to the Cross to find life—first, through receiving the forgiveness God offers each of us through His Son. And then He calls us to learn to live—to find companionship and power-filled guidance from Him when you and I face our “cross” days.

The sum of human pain, problem, futility and hopelessness is focused here at the Cross of Christ—

all suffering, all rejection, all painfulness,
all exhaustion, all misunderstanding,
all anger, all hatred, all sinning, all depression,
all loneliness, all death.
But also focused here is all wisdom and understanding
and all faith, hope and love.

It is by and unto that love we are summoned most of all—to look unto Jesus and to welcome Him into our hopeless days, having seen Him process what may well have been His . . . except. The exception is that Jesus handled the day in a way that saw beyond it: “For the joy that was set before Him, [He] endured the Cross.” He related to each moment and each person in a manner that overthrew their hope-emptying potential, showing us the way to do likewise in any such day we may face.

Excerpted by permission from "Hope For a Hopeless Day – Encouragement and Inspiration for When You Need It Most." Copyright © 2007 by Jack W. Hayford. Regal Books, Ventura, California.

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