Have you ever faced a hopeless situation? One where you had to struggle to maintain even the slightest glimmer of hope? Maybe you are dealing with such a situation right now, pushing yourself to keep from giving up in despair. If so, I hope this letter will encourage you greatly, or at least enable you to encourage someone you know who is fighting to keep hope alive. Those kinds of situations are often when we see our Lord Jesus do some of His best work.
The Man in the Stryker Frame
To begin, let me relate a testimony I heard many years ago from a friend in Ohio who worked as a nurse in the critical care unit of a local hospital. Late one night as she was leaving the hospital, the Lord specifically directed her to go into a room close to the exit. Walking in, she saw a critically injured man, suspended on an apparatus called a Stryker frame (a bed on a steel, circular frame designed to keep pressure off injured parts of the body.) The man was suspended on the device with his face close to the floor, conscious, but in too much pain to communicate fully. She sensed the Lord prompting her to read to him from her Bible. The only way she could do so was to lie on the floor next to the Stryker frame and open her Bible close to the man’s face. Reluctantly, but obediently, she lay down on the floor, read some passages out loud, then departed. As she left the man’s room, she thought to herself, “That’s the stupidest thing I have ever done. I’ll never do that again!” However, the next night as she finished her shift and walked to the exit by the man’s room, the Lord directed her again to go in and read. Protesting, yet complying, she went in and assumed the prone position. This time, reading aloud to him about the crucifixion of Jesus from her open Bible directly under his face, she noticed teardrops—his, not hers—falling onto the pages. Realizing that the message was getting through, she asked the injured man if he wanted to receive Jesus as his Savior. Though unable to communicate fully, the man indicated “yes,” and she prayed with him to accept Jesus as Lord. The next evening, as she exited the building, she felt absolutely no prompting to enter the man’s room. Curious, she opened the door only to find the room completely empty. The injured man had passed away earlier that day. Her reluctant obedience, even when all hope seemed gone, had made an eternal difference in his life.
When the Glimmer Fades
This moving testimony always brings to mind the biblical account of Jairus, the synagogue official who came to Jesus desperate for his only daughter who was on the verge of death. He was struggling to keep hope alive, and Jesus was his final hope! How elated Jairus must have been when Jesus accepted his invitation to come to his house and pray for his daughter! As Jesus was walking with him, the crowd pressing in on all sides, the dear woman with the issue of blood reached out and touched Jesus. Everything came to a stop, with agonizing minutes of delay while Jesus acknowledged the healed woman’s faith. Can we even imagine the desperate thoughts racing through the mind of Jairus as crucial seconds ticked by? Then came the news that extinguished all hope for Jairus. We read in Mark 5:35: “While He [Jesus] was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?’”
The Smoking Flax
Have you discovered that Jesus does some of His finest work in our lives when all hope is almost gone. Scripture describes our Savior in Isaiah 42:3, quoted again in Matthew 12:20: “A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench.” The New Living translation of this passage is marvelous: “He will not crush those who are weak, or quench the smallest hope.” Igniting hope is what Jesus does best. As soon as Jairus heard the bad news, before that last vestige of hope could flee from his heart, Jesus spoke immediately and pointedly to him: “Do not be afraid; only believe.” The Luke 8 account includes one more phrase from Jesus: “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well” (verse 50). Jesus was blowing upon the embers of hope just as they were about to go out. As He did, a spark came to life in the heart of Jairus—a new glimmer of hope and belief that carried him forward. We all know how Jesus entered the house, asking the mourners what all the commotion was about, since the little girl was only asleep. Walking past the crowd who ridiculed Him, Jesus took Jairus and his wife into the room so they could witness Him taking their twelve-year-old daughter by the hand and saying, “Talitha cumi, … Little girl, I say to you, arise” (Mark 5:41). Their smoking flax burst into vibrant flame!
Hope’s Power in Our Lives
Derek frequently taught on the power of hope. One reason was that hope was a very precious commodity to him. He waged a running battle against hopelessness and depression in the early years of his life. So for Derek to discover hope as the answer to the depression he regularly faced was a wonderful, life-changing revelation for him. And he shared that truth liberally with a particular delight, as you will discern in the passages you are about to read from his radio series on that topic:
A little further on in the fifteenth chapter of Romans, verse 13, Paul comes out with some really beautiful words:
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [What’s the result?], that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” So, God wants to fill us with all joy and peace that we may “abound in hope.” That means that we may have more than just enough hope for ourselves; that we may have hope to minister to others. When others are downcast, we have a word of hope, a word of encouragement for them. But notice: it’s by the power of the Holy Spirit. We have to open ourselves up fully to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the only agent who can minister this kind of victorious hope in our lives in its fullness. Then, just to close, notice the beautiful phrase with which Paul begins that thirteenth verse of Romans 15: “Now may the God of hope fill you….” Notice, He’s the God of hope. You cannot know God without having hope. He is the only ultimate source of all true hope, the God of hope. May He fill you. That is my prayer for you. Let me read it once more as a prayer: 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. That’s my sincere prayer. Consider these words. Meditate on them. When you’re in trouble and affliction, turn back to them. Read them again, over and over, until they become completely real in your life and your experience.
Abounding in Hope
Are you ready to take that step from a glimmer of hope to an abundance of hope? Do you believe it’s possible? If what Derek has just taught us is reliable—and we have no reason to doubt him—we can take a step of belief and faith right now that will lead to an abundance of hope in our lives. That smoldering flax of the hopeless situation you are facing is about to be breathed upon by the Master of the Universe. Together, let’s ask for His help right now. Will you join me in prayer?
Jesus, I confess to You that I am struggling to keep hope alive right now in situations I am facing. I know I can’t continue in my own strength. So I take a deliberate step of faith, trusting that You can fill me with joy and peace in believing, and that the result will be an infusion of hope that will abound in my life. I thank You in advance for the breath of Your Holy Spirit on the smoking flax of my life. Only Your Spirit can ignite hope in my heart and soul. Thank You for hearing my prayer today. Amen.
A Helping Hand Is On the Way
You can be sure the Lord has heard your prayer. Just as Jesus took Jairus’ daughter by the hand, He is taking your hand now as well, lifting you and speaking new life and hope to you.
So let’s step together into the HOPE that God give us. May you experience the dynamic answer to the words you prayed and May the God of hope fill YOU…that YOU may abound in hope!