Feelings of hopelessness have been on the fringe of my life these past few years. As Zack and I have traveled down an unexpected road of recurrent miscarriage and infertility, I have felt the waves of hopelessness knock at the door of my heart many times (watch our story here).
For many of us, unfulfilled longings can often be the biggest funnel toward hopelessness.
As I’ve wrestled with my own unfulfilled longings, I’ve come to the realization that the way I choose to respond to my disappointments will take me down one of two paths: Either I will go down a path toward hopelessness, or I will choose to respond in a way that leads my heart toward true hope and joy.
Unfulfilled longings and deep disappointments are a reality in all of our lives. But as hard as they may be, they’re not the real culprit for our hopeless. Our circumstances are often the spotlight, shining the truth on where our hearts have gone astray.
Hopelessness happens when our heart is set on the wrong thing.
When the object of our affection and satisfaction is set on anything but Christ, we have set our heart on the wrong goal. A simple way to discover where your heart has gone wrong is to ask yourself this question:
What do I want so bad in life right now that I won’t be happy unless I get it?
It could be anything…even really good things.
- Having a boyfriend.
- Getting married.
- Having kids.
- Having an understanding husband.
- Getting a new job.
- Getting accepted into a university.
- Passing hard tests at school.
- Restoring broken relationships.
- Making the sports team.
- Seeing a family member get saved.
- Making new friends.
- Losing weight.
Hopelessness happens when the satisfaction of our soul hinges on “that thing” (whatever it is for each of us) for our ultimate fulfillment and joy.
Sorrow hits when our hope is determined by our circumstances.
The only way to restore true joy and hope back into our lives isn’t by getting what we desire, but by setting our desires back on Christ. When loving Christ becomes the central focus and desire of our hearts, we restore great joy and hope back into our lives — even in the midst of unfulfilled longings.
As I’ve wrestled with my own unfulfilled longings over the years (and right now), I’ve felt the gentle nudge of Scripture reminding me of where to rightly place my hope. As wonderful as having a baby would be for me, it can’t be the central goal of my life. My hope can’t hinge on whether or not I get what I desire. My heart must be set on loving and trusting in Christ above all else.
Over the past few years, an unexpected passage of Scripture has helped me set my heart on Christ.
It comes from Lamentations 3 and has been a great source of encouragement and hope for me. As you read it, take note of the progression of how the author goes from despair to finding true hope again:
“My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord…’ But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” (Lamentations 3:17-18, 21-25, italics added).
True hope is found by setting our hearts on Christ.
As we remind ourselves of who God is and what His love and faithfulness mean to us, our hope will never run dry. Because of Christ, we can have hope again. We can find joy again. Regardless of whether our circumstances ever change or not, Christ promises to be enough for us. He is the one our souls truly long for and need.
As you face seasons of hopelessness in your life right now and in the future, pull out Lamentations 3 and let it become your personal prayer. Call to mind who Christ us. Remind yourself of God’s faithfulness. Remind yourself of God’s love. Redirect your affections back to Him. As you do this, your heart will transform from hopelessness and despair, back to true hope and soul-satisfying joy.
Let’s chat below.
- In what ways are you struggling with hopelessness right now?
- How do the verses in Lamentations 3 encourage you to find hope in the Lord right now?