Even one person reaching the point of giving up all hope is too many. So it is alarming that we seem to be facing a hopelessness epidemic. Our loving Creator recognizes the problems and offers the solid solutions—and real hope!
Wisconsin dairy farmer Randy Roecker became suicidal a decade ago when the recession hit just after he had invested millions of dollars expanding the family farm. “‘You feel like you’re in this pit, and you’re climbing to try to get out of it,’ Roecker said. ‘We are all struggling so bad. My friends in the city, they have no idea what we’re going through. ... Every load of milk that goes out, we’re losing money’” (Drovers.com).
A 35-year-old woman told this poignant story of her life:
“I feel like a ghost. …
“I used to consider myself creative—a good writer, poetic, passionate, curious. Now, after many years of demanding yet uninspiring jobs, multiple heartbreaks, move after move, financial woes, I’m quite frankly exhausted. …
“My apathy is coming out in weird ways. I’m drinking too much, and when I do see my friends on occasion, I end up getting drunk and angry or sad or both and pushing them away. …
“Now I feel incredibly hollow” (“I’m Broke and Mostly Friendless and I’ve Wasted My Whole Life,” medium.com).
Each individual story is heartbreaking, and there are so many of them.
Throughout history, the common people have felt helpless to change the world—and often helpless to change even their own situation. But we humans are amazingly resilient with a stubborn streak of optimism. We generally harbor some hope that someone can do something, or just that conditions can change.
But sometimes life beats down on us to the point we slip over the line from helplessness to hopelessness.
Hopelessness in the news
Consider a few recent headlines:
- “Suicides Surge in Hopeless Venezuela” (Bloomberg.com).
- “Civilians in Israel, Gaza Feel Helpless Amid New Fighting” (APNews.com).
- “Hopelessness and the Increasing Suicide Rate in America” (AJC.com).
- “Behind the Badge: High Stress and Hopelessness Contribute to High Suicide Rate for Police” (The Trentonian).
- “After the Overdose: A Family’s Journey Into Grief and Despair” (TheIntelligencer.net).
(Note: If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, in the U.S. contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For other countries, see http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html for suicide hotlines around the world.)
Unhealthy coping strategies
Many people face similar challenges and may be on the brink of hopelessness. Too often they find unhealthy coping mechanisms to try to mask or forget their frustrations, discouragements and anxieties.
Those who turn to alcohol can find themselves stuck in a Margaritaville of regret. Chemicals and addictions do nothing to solve the problems, and inevitably make them worse. The opioid epidemic and spiraling suicide rates demonstrate the dead-end nature of these coping strategies.
Our whole world seems to be on a similar path of despair and self-destruction. We, knowingly or unknowingly, break laws that automatically produce bad results. Then we try to escape the negative consequences by doing things that only make things worse. We all need—this whole planet yearns for—real solutions and genuine hope.
Our Creator recognized this gaping hole in our hearts and minds, and He has recorded the solutions in His instruction book, the Holy Bible.Our Creator recognized this gaping hole in our hearts and minds, and He has recorded the solutions in His instruction book, the Holy Bible. The Bible is full of real people facing real problems. And it provides real, lasting solutions. It gives us access to “strong consolation” and a “sure and steadfast” hope (Hebrews 6:18-19)—if we will listen and heed.
Jeremiah himself faced a seemingly hopeless task. After 23 long years of preaching God’s message of repentance and hope, he summed up the result: “I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, but you have not listened” (Jeremiah 25:3).
And it was not just Jeremiah. All of God’s prophets had been saying, “Repent now everyone of his evil way and his evil doings” (verse 5). If the people had repented, they would have been secure, but their continued disobedience to God’s laws eventually led to 70 years of captivity in Babylon (verse 11).
If we look at today’s world from God’s perspective, we can see that our sins are just as bad or worse. (For examples, see our article “Why Is God Angry With America?”) And the stakes now are even higher. As Jesus prophesied, lawlessness is abounding, love is growing cold and human survival is on the line (Matthew 24:12, 21-22; see our article “Understanding the Olivet Prophecy”).
But God had not given up on the people of Jeremiah’s day. And He has not given up on us today.
A future and a hope
God inspired Jeremiah to record these words of encouragement to send to the Jewish captives in Babylon:
“After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
“Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:10-13).
Finally, after defeat and captivity, the people were ready to listen and to seek God.
Will it take the same today?
Sadly, it seems so. As a symptom of our upside-down world, after years of tribulation and a lack of widespread repentance, people will mourn when Jesus Christ returns (Matthew 24:30)! Armies will gather “to make war against Him”—against our Savior and the returning King of Kings (Revelation 19:19).
This misguided, futile effort will be quickly put down, and people will finally be ready to listen and repent. Then our loving God will extend His gift of “a future and a hope” to all humanity.
It will be a matchless future of peace and prosperity, of meaningful lives with awesome potential.