When a personal tragedy strikes such as what happened this past week with the death of Robin Williams, it seemingly affects the entire nation. While we can never know what happens biologically in a person’s mind or spiritually in his soul to cause them to act in the way Robin did, I am convinced that part of the reason is that they have lost hope. For families who have not experienced the death of a loved one through suicide, this might seem to simplistic of an explanation. I want to remind the reader I write from the worldview lens of a follower of Jesus. I have to admit I’m a little disappointed with the word “hope.” Not hope itself but with the word. The way we use it today has nothing to do with the way the Bible uses the word. When we use the word today, it’s sort of wimpy. We use the word today to mean, “I wish.” We go to the movie – “I hope this is going to be a good movie.” We go through a drive through – “I hope I get what I ordered!” I wish… I hope so… But the Bible doesn’t use it that way. When the Bible uses it, it doesn’t mean, “I wish”, it means it’s a fact. It’s confidence. It’s not “I hope so…” It’s, I hope… so I have confidence. I hope … so I’m not afraid. I hope… so I can walk into the future. That’s the kind of gift God wants to give us. Someone said that this kind of hope… real hope… is like oxygen to the soul. You can’t live without it. It’s not just being an optimist. A lot of people mistake hope and optimism. An optimist sees the glass as half full and the pessimist sees the glass as half empty. A person of hope sees that the glass is firmly held in the hand of God. This is good news for some of you who are pessimists. You feel like you can never be hopeful. You can be pessimistic and hopeful. You can recognize that even in a world where things aren’t perfect, God is still in control. He still holds things in His hands.
Four-word definition of hope: hope is when I realize that God is in control. That’s what hope is. When I see that, it changes everything in life. When I realize that God’s plan will always prevail, I have hope. I have a confession to make that I have never shared publicly – I have dealt with depression and it is a scary place to be in your life. No reason to share the circumstances, but I felt I had lost control of everything that I could control and it was a feeling of despair and helplessness. I chose not to get medical treatment as I hate taking drugs, but realize that sometimes it is necessary. But, until a person gets to the core of their depression and hopelessness, drugs will only mask the problem.Look at the statistics, the cases of depression rise percentage-wise every year in the United States. Suicide is now the eighth leading cause of death in our country. In 2007, a study by IMC Health revealed that children five and under who take Prozac and other depression helping drugs rose from 8,000 to 40,000 in one year. There’s a lot of medical reasons for that, but there’s also a lot of hope reasons for that. We’re desperately in need of hope. Never in human history have so many had so much for so long and been so depressed about it! We need hope. The kind of hope that God gives that changes everything. Hope enables you to find a new purpose for the future. It is hope that enables someone who has been victimized in a terrible way to not only find healing in their life but have the ability to go help someone else who’s been victimized. It’s hope that enables someone who is just not sure about the future – you’re not sure where life is headed – to put one foot in front of the other and keep going on, knowing that God has a future even though you don’t know what it is. It is hope that enables someone to take a dream that has been shattered and watch God begin to put it together piece by piece one more time. It’s hope that enables you to look forward to the future even when you’ve sat down across the desk from that doctor and they’ve looked you in the eye and said, “It’s not going to get any better.” You know that one day there’s a better day coming. We need hope. In the New Testament, the word “hope” occurs one time before the resurrection of Jesus – in the book of Matthew. But it occurs 70 times after the resurrection of Christ. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where hope comes from! It comes from the resurrection. The resurrection started with a cross. Hope begins at the darkest places of our lives. Yet it’s a perfect illustration of our faith. It was a dark place and yet God turned it into a resurrection. If you want an illustration of how God sends problems into the world to bring good into the world, don’t look any farther than the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He took that evil that was done on the cross and turned it into a resurrection that brings us light – there’s the illustration, the fact that He can bring hope. The cross tells us that He not only understands our pain but He can transform our pain.