Some situations become hopeless. There comes a point when there is nothing more that can be done and all that was fought for lies shattered on the ground. This is the time “beyond hope”.
King David prayed desperately for his dying son. He pleaded for the child’s life with all he had. But God had decreed the illegitimate child of the King’s adultery would die. Once the child was dead, David rose from his intercessions and went back to normal duties. The matter was closed. It was beyond hope.
All Is Lost
Have you been in a situation where all is lost? Have you held out in hope, only to be bitterly disappointed by the outcome? Have you had to live with the aftermath of tragedy, where the hoped for help never came?
Despite the fact that such situations do occur, as King David experienced, it is not the only reality. There is another possibility where all is not lost. That is my focus in this lesson. Whatever you have been through in facing despair, I have an exhortation for you. Do not lose heart. Do not give up hope. It is possible for there to be hope, even when all hope is lost!
Hope Beyond Hope
It’s a contradiction to say there is hope beyond hope. But that is what the Bible reveals, and so, it is true. There is hope in God beyond the hopes of men. When men give up hope, others, who know their God, are able to yet press on in hope.
What man deems to be “hopeless” may not be hopeless at all. Man’s judgement is not the same as God’s judgement. Man’s ways are far inferior to God’s ways, which surpass human ways as the heavens are higher than the earth.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8,9
God is able to see the grand scheme of things and to intervene in the course of things outside anything that man would expect.
A young man takes ill, so the doctors are called. There is hope in the doctors. But the doctors find they can do nothing. Their interventions fall short of a solution. Hope fades. Then one comes along with herbal remedies. These are applied with the zeal of desperation. Hope has sprung again. But the desired effect is missing. The anticipated recovery does not come and the man drifts perilously closer to death.
Word comes that there is a religious man who has cured others. The man is called for and prays his prayers and prescribes the appropriate observances. Hope has sprung up again and the family follows the instructions religiously. But, as before, the intervention leads to nothing. The man lingers at death’s door for a time before stumbling through it and into oblivion.
All hope is now gone. They had reached the eleventh hour, and watched the clock tick to the final minute. Then, as that figurative clock struck twelve, there was no more time. Time had run out. The door of opportunity slammed shut.
As the weeping widow followed her dead son’s body upon the funeral stretcher she was in abject despair. There was no one else to care for her in her state. Bitter tears of loss and fear were all she could muster. All hope, every single skerrick of it, was dead with the stiffened bones of her son.
Then Jesus Came
Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, chanced to be at that village of Nain that very day. He arrived in time to meet the funeral procession as it stepped its morbid journey to the grave.
Jesus stopped the procession, walked to the funeral bier and raised the dead son to life again. Resurrection overcame death and rejoicing overcame despair. Hope from God trampled in the dust the lost hopes of man and pointed to a whole new realm of possibilities.
The new hope “beyond hope” that we have is the hope of Jesus entering a situation and the power of God being released in miraculous proportions. “Then Jesus Came” is the catch-phrase that declares the foundation of faith and hope transcending the ticking clock of man’s perceptions.
God is not intimidated by the clock of man’s expectation. God does not need to act by 11:59. Man’s “midnight” may not be God’s calculation. In fact, it is often God’s way to mock man’s perceptions and bring something much better than an “eleventh hour” solution.
God’s solutions are able to be even more effective way past midnight, when the mourners have spent their tears and despair has numbed the land. Hope does not rely on the clock of human interpretation. God laughs at our measurements and delights to reveal that He is God!
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego passed the hope of not being discovered. They were reported to King Nebuchadnezzar for not bowing to his idol. They went past any hope of mercy, when the King sentenced them to death. They passed the moment of God’s deliverance, when they were thrown headlong into the fire. All hope was gone. They had no mercy, no escape and no hope. They went into the full fury of the punishment prescribed.
Yet they had chosen to hope in God. “Our God will save us”, they declared. And they put in a disclaimer, just in case they were fried in the fire. They defied the King, even to the torments of death.
“Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:17,18
The result, beyond hope, was a miracle of deliverance. What occurred was far more wonderful than being undiscovered in their faith, or being given clemency by the king. The more hopeless their situation the more glorious their deliverance. The miracle sprang from that time beyond twelve. The eleventh hour had elapsed, and so too had the next sixty minutes. The clock had struck its dreadful midnight. All natural hope was spent and gone. But supernatural hope prevailed!
Hope is one of three enduring things. It is listed with faith and love as the three things which abide forever.
“And now three things continue: faith, hope, love; but the greatest of these is love.” 1Corinthians 13:13
Human hope dies. It dies daily. Hope in the doctors, the herbs and the man with a reputation falls flat. But hope in God endures. Faith in God endures. God’s love endures. And hope that is anchored in God has an abiding, enduring stamina. It is not undone by the circumstances, or by the ticking of man’s clock. Hope that is placed in God is not lost, even when the funeral procession is half-way to the tomb.
Lazarus was dead and buried. Mary and Martha had no hope. Then Jesus came. Lazarus was called forth from the grave.
Daniel’s accusers had him trapped. The king who wanted to save him could not do so. The old man of God was thrown into the lion’s den. But that was not the end of the story. The lion’s were miraculously restrained and Daniel came out alive. The enemies met the lions on less restrained terms.
Jesus was dead and buried. The disciples were in fear and shock. Hope was gone and all were bewildered. Evil had won the day. But three days later, long past the eleventh hour, and way past the terrible midnight of the soul, Jesus rose from the dead and all of humanity was impacted.
Put Away the Clock
If your hope keeps one eye on the clock, then you are not hoping in God. God will reveal His glory and fulfil His word, whether your clock says midnight, or 3am in the morning.
Put your clock away. Put aside your hope in man and your trust in uncertain supports. Trust in the Lord, for that is where the blessing rests.
Allow me to add the element of “hope” to verses I have referred to in lessons before…
“Thus says the LORD; Cursed is the man who trusts (and HOPES) in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from the LORD. For he will be like the heath in the desert, and will not see when good comes; but will inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.
Blessed is the man that trusts in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he will be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreads out its roots by the river, and will not see when heat comes, but the leaves will be green; and they will not be careful in the year of drought, neither cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:5-8