The devastating Camp Fire of November 8, 2018, shocked the nation as it roared through the community of Paradise, California. The deadliest and most destructive fire in California history resulted in 85 fatalities and scores of homes and properties destroyed, including some buildings at Adventist Health Feather River, and the Paradise Seventh-day Adventist Church and School.
It’s understandable that those who lost so much could also lose hope. Some, however, exhibited the indestructible hope that comes from faith in God. Hospital employee Linda Martella reflected on her experience: “We lost our home, our church, our community. I lost my job at the hospital, as did so many other people. But I didn’t lose my faith! That’s the one thing I hung onto.”
Indestructible hope in the face of unquenchable destruction doesn’t come naturally to most people. While some may have an upbeat, optimistic disposition that helps during those times, the enormity of the discouraging circumstances can completely overwhelm others. We saw ample evidence of this during our recent COVID pandemic. This current sociological upheaval is giving us opportunities to learn new coping mechanisms to get through trying times.
God recognizes this tendency toward discouragement among humans and so, even in the most severe prophecies in Scripture, there are sprinkled promises of hope. In the midst of Isaiah’s prophecies of condemnation and destruction, God says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” (Isaiah 41:10)
While Jeremiah counseled God’s people in Jerusalem to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar, and informed those already banished to Babylon to settle in for a long exile, God gave this word of encouragement: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Jesus gives us the sobering news for our situation today in John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble.” God does not leave us desolate, though. There is good news included in this message that can give us indestructible hope: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Connecting: When you feel discouraged, is there some memento from your past that reminds you of God’s providence? What triggers your memory of God’s leading in your life?
Sharing: How do you tend to view people who become depressed during troubling times?
- They obviously have little faith
- Depression is a natural physiological response—a defense mechanism—that eases mental overload when faced with an onslaught of discouraging stimuli
- I understand that people can become overwhelmed, but that’s the time to increase one’s prayer and devotion time in response
- I’ve been there, so I will pass judgment on no one
- What can I do to help?
Applying: Where does your hope come from? As you reflect on those things that give you hope and encouragement through challenging times, look for ways to help someone else who may not naturally exhibit indestructible hope.