For the Girl Whose Hope Is Gone

He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; 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.” Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. 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. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lam. 3:16–26)

Yeah, I’ve been in that place—that hopeless pit. I’ve been ready to give up, too. The writer of Lamentations said his bitter pain was like grinding his teeth on gravel. He had no peace. He forgot what happiness felt like. His endurance died, and so did his hope in the Lord. Did a writer of Scripture actually admit that?  Did he really say a thing we’d be scared to admit to our small group, our mentor, or even some of our closest friends? He was done. Exhausted. Beat down. His hope, along with his fight, straight-up died. That’s, like, a thing good Christian girls aren’t ever supposed to say, right? We’re always supposed to be filled with faith and hope and joy and a positive outlook . . . right?  But look at Jeremiah being honest with God. Look at him expressing how this pain is stealing his peace, gutting him, and sucking out his stamina. “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.” He said it. He answered God’s invitation to be gut-level honest about his current condition—his very human response to the grief and trouble and brokenness of this world. I get to be raw and vulnerable with Jesus? When pain grinds my faith and hope and joy into dust . . . I can admit it? I can tell Jesus that I’m completely crushed, instead of trying to keep that “perfect Christian” expectation intact? Hallelujah, yes. Jesus already knows we’re broken people (Ps. 103:13–14). He came to rescue sinful, struggling people, not perfect people (Luke 19:10). Our Creator doesn’t expect us to pretend that the pain in this world hasn’t hit us hard. Instead, He says, “You’re broken and exhausted and giving up? Come here. I’ll carry you” (Matt. 11:28–30).

Your Honesty Is Welcome Here

Jesus looks at me with compassionate eyes and invites me to tell Him everything. He will hear me. He won’t look away. He won’t scold me for struggling, for limping along this path. Instead, Jesus hands me a forever-open invitation to bring my faithless groaning and exhausted doubts and messy wounds into His comforting presence. As Jesus has carried me through deep waters of pain, I’ve experienced this wild goodness: my gut-level honesty is welcome. I don’t have to hide. I don’t need to pretend my faith is rock solid if it’s actually trembling. When we’re honest about where we are, about what’s going on, about how we feel, Jesus can go to work to heal us. We don’t have to hold ourselves together. We can collapse into His arms.

Even If Nothing Changes

If you’re in the pit of hard things and your hope is dead, remember God’s never-ending love. This transition from grief to hope in Lamentations 3:21–22 sends shock waves through my soul:

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.

In this passage, it’s important to recognize that Jeremiah’s circumstances didn’t change. He didn’t say that the pain suddenly stopped, and that’s why his hope was refueled. A hoped-for outcome hadn’t arrived to drench his soul with hope. Nothing changed. In the midst of awful circumstances, Jeremiah believed that God’s unending love and His new-every-morning mercy was the only thing he could stand on.  This is it. This is what we do when we’re done. We tell God what hurts. Then we remember—over and over—God’s steadfast love. That He sees us.

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love. (Ps. 33:18)

That He keeps His promises.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. (Deut. 7:9)

That He is the faithful Waymaker who will stop at nothing to rescue His people.

To him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt, for his steadfast love endures forever; and brought Israel out from among them, for his steadfast love endures forever; with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who divided the Red Sea in two, for his steadfast love endures forever; and made Israel pass through the midst of it, for his steadfast love endures forever; but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who led his people through the wilderness, for his steadfast love endures forever. (Psalm 136:10–16)

The truth of God’s unconditional, unmoving love doesn’t negate our pain or fast-forward the process of walking through difficult situations, but His love does meet us deep in the pit and transforms the pain into a story of His faithfulness. God’s love isn’t a quick-fix solution that tells us to stop crying so we can grit our teeth and walk around with a fake-joy smile because we think having hope means to never waiver. God’s love dives headfirst into the muddy pit with us, showing up in a million faithful ways to sustain us, to help us put one foot in front of the other, to humble us so that we collapse into His steadying arms with the faith that He’ll keep working when we can’t go anymore. God’s love is our hope fuel.  We don’t always feel it. When our hope is dead, we don’t always feel like declaring that God’s faithfulness is great and that the sun will rise with His new mercies. But it will. Jesus, I’m exhausted, and I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m ready to throw in the towel; my heart is done being crushed. This hurts. But I have to believe that You are trustworthy. I have to believe that You’ve got this. I don’t know what else to do, and I’m asking you to show up here—in my heart and in this situation—to give me faith and hope to go on. 

About the Author

Samantha Keller

Samantha Keller loves lazy lake days, strong coffee, and writing about the ways Jesus transforms our everyday messes into beautiful stories. She digs the four seasons in northern Indiana, is probably wearing a Notre Dame crew neck.