Has hope become a stranger in your life? Do you look about you...within you...and hurt?

Do you hurt because what you wanted in life has become an impossible dream? Is your hope gone because it's too late to make your dream come true? The mold is cast, you'’re poured into it, and the clay is hardened.

...Maybe hope is gone because a phase of your life is over; never to be relived — only replayed. And every time it's replayed, your hopelessness increases.

...Maybe hope is gone because you're an adult now. You'll never be a child again, but you want to be, to have another chance, another start. You feel robbed. You look about you, and envy consumes you.

...Maybe your hope is gone because you've discovered children pack up and leave home but never move out of your heart. And sometimes you wish they would. Your pain is enormous. Your hopes and your dreams for them are seemingly shattered. Your relationship is cracked and fragile. You wish they were little again so you could do it differently, but there's no hope; the die has been cast. They'll never be children again.

...Maybe your hope is gone because the doctor has given his diagnosis, and it spells death. You're not ready to face death emotionally, and even financially you wonder how you will be able to afford to die.

...Maybe your hope is gone because the one you loved is gone. The sun still shines; the flowers still come up; the trees still come to life; the stars still sparkle; people still laugh — but when you reach over to take their hand to share it with the one who would understand, they aren't there. You hurt; but you have to go on, and all the hoping in the world won't bring them back.

...Maybe your hope is gone because all you worked for, all you attained, all you saved for, planned for, and found joy in is gone. And you feel ashamed. If only you had known, if only you hadn't done what you did, maybe things would have been different. Hope is replaced by "if onlys" — frustrating, heart-wrenching, self-accusing "if onlys."

...Maybe you've lost hope because you're trapped in a vicious cycle of earning a living, caring for your family, trying to survive and wondering if this is all there is to life. You're busy — maybe even seemingly successful in the eyes of others — but they don't know what's going on inside. They don't know the pain, the hopelessness. You're caught in a whirlpool of life and responsibilities you can't escape, and you know you're going to drown wondering how life would have been different if you'd made different choices.

WITHOUT HOPE? YES...AND NO. Let me explain. Life will never be without pain. When the Bible talks about hope, it never has to do with the "threescore and ten" years we may or may not live. It never has to do with life being the way we want it to be. It never contains a promise of bliss to those who believe. "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied." (1 Corinthians 15:19). Jesus is not just for this life.

When we live as if He is, we will be most miserable. Miserable and unable to find the deep abiding peace we so desperately long for — peace that can weather any storm, peace that brings hope.

And where does one find this peace? At the cross — His cross and yours.

First they are found at His cross where you have received absolute and total forgiveness for all your sins-past, present, and future. If you have no peace because of your sins, no hope because of what you did yesterday and beyond, if you think you cannot go on — there is only one place you can change all that, and it's at the cross of Jesus Christ. Start reading the New Testament and don't stop until you finish. As you read, mark every reference to the cross of Jesus Christ and write down what you learn from God's Word. As you write, ask yourself if you are going to believe God or not? Are you going to walk by what your heart feels, your mind thinks, your body craves, others say? Or are you going to believe God?

It is that simple — and that hard. Simple in that believing is all you have to do; hard in that you have to make a choice to believe and not let go no matter what. Simple. Hard. But not impossible!

Either you believe what God did at Calvary and what He said and promised to those who would believe and receive His Son, or you don't. If you believe, you will have hope — hope that has to do with the end result of these "threescore and ten" years, realizing that life doesn't end at death: It begins!

Seventy years is nothing in light of eternity, yet we live as if it's everything. All this brings me then to the second cross I mentioned — yours (and mine). When Jesus calls us to Himself for salvation, He calls us to a cross — ours. He calls us to "death" — death to self in any and every shape and form. He says, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me."

If you will purposely deny self and take up your cross and keep on following Him, then no matter what life may bring, there is hope, because at the cross you and I look beyond the pain and disappointment to the end result — the joy that is set before us, the promise that ALL things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom God foreknew, He predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son...." (Romans 8:28:30). Only the cross — first His, then ours — can conform us into His image.

Oh, Beloved, embrace the cross, for then your hope in Christ will move beyond this present life, and you will be of all men most envied; for your hope will not be in this life, but in His life — His life in you, His life through you, and your life with Him forever. Then you will walk as more than a conqueror, and you will know a peace which passes all understanding. There is hope, at the cross. Weeping endures for a night — weep, but know joy does come in the morning. Spring follows winter. He promised.

Kay Arthur
Host, Precepts for Life
Co-CEO, Precept Ministries International