10 Reasons to Hope When You Feel Hopeless

Today we’re reposting another of the most popular articles from our archives. Need hope for your New Year? Look no further.

The poet Emily Dickinson wrote, 

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.1

In four simple lines, she captured the essence of what lifts every human being out of bed in the morning, moves us through our days, and enables us to persevere when life gets hard. Hope.

We hope we’ll accomplish something meaningful. We hope someone will love us. We hope our lives will be free from pain. And if they’re not, we hope tomorrow will be a better day.

For many, hope is nothing more than a wish. A yearning for something our heart desires. An expectation that we’ll gain the object of our affection. This type of wishful hope rises and falls with the winds of chance and circumstance. It has no solid basis and is usually tied to something or someone temporal.

Thousands of years before Emily Dickinson penned her famous lines, another writer described a different source of hope—a constant and sure One. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,” the apostle Paul wrote, “so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13 NIV).

J.I. Packer, in his book Never Beyond Hope, differentiates between worldly and biblical hope. 

Optimism is a wish without warrant; Christian hope is a certainty, guaranteed by God himself. Optimism reflects ignorance as to whether good things will ever actually come. Christian hope expresses knowledge that every day of his life, and every moment beyond it, the believer can say with truth, on the basis of God’s own commitment, that the best is yet to come.2

The concept of hope is biblical. The word appears 158 times in the New International Version of the Bible. These verses describe three sources of sure and certain hope: God’s character, God’s work, and God’s Word.

  • “No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame” (Psalm 25:3).
  • “For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good” (Psalm 52:9).
  • “You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word” (Psalm 119:114).

Every day we have a choice where to look for hope—in created things or in our Creator. The world tells us to hope in money, luck, determination, relationships, skills, and our own abilities. God tells us to look to Him.

The world disappoints us—again and again, but God will never fail us. The hope He offers doesn’t rise and fall with changing circumstances. It is solid and secure.

God’s version of hope doesn’t promise to deliver our personal definition of happiness. It assures us He’ll order the events of our lives to refine us and make us more like His Son. Only there will we find the deep and abiding joy we crave.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon once shared that New Zealanders have a word for hope that signifies “the swimming thought.” He used the term to describe the hope God offers, “because when all other thoughts are drowned, hope still swims.”3

Here are ten reasons from God’s Word for you to swim in hope this year. 

10 Biblical Reasons to Have Hope

1. God is good.

We never have to question God’s motives or methods. He cannot act outside His nature, and His nature is always good. We can trust Him, even when He allows circumstances that aren’t good.

I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion: therefore I will wait for him.”

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, 
to the one who seeks him; 
it is good to wait quietly 
for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:24–26 NIV)

2. God is faithful.

In a world of broken promises, God’s character holds fast. He is a promise-keeping God. As Joshua declared to the Israelites, “Not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed” (Josh. 23:14 NIV). We can trust Him for the future based on His faithfulness in the past.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23 NIV)

3. God never leaves us or forsakes us.

One of Satan’s sneakiest lies tells us that God abandons us in our distress. God’s Word says otherwise. 

Isaiah 43:1–2 ESV tells us: 

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; 
I have called you by name, you are mine. 
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; 
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; 
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, 
and the flame shall not consume you.” 

4. God knows everything.

The longer we live, the more aware we become of how limited our understanding is. This awareness becomes especially keen during our parenting years.

How should we educate our children? How should we discipline them? What’s the best way to impart spiritual truth? These questions and many more can overwhelm us if we forget that God, who knows everything, eagerly shares His wisdom with us when we ask (James 1:5).

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! (Romans 11:33 NIV)

5. God never stops loving us.

Many wrongly assume God’s love is based on our performance. When we “fail” God in some way, we believe He will wipe His holy hands of us and direct His love toward someone more worthy. 

We can learn to rest in the security of God’s love when we take to heart verses like Titus 3:4–5, which remind us that because we did nothing to earn God’s love, we can’t do anything to lose it. God loves us. Period.

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. (Titus 3:4–5 NIV)

6. God always hears our prayers.

When my children were little, I could pick out their cries above the voices of a dozen children. Their slightest whimper awakened me in the middle of the night. But even my Super Mom ears didn’t hear every request for help or comfort. God, however, never misses a whisper, especially when we pray. Although His answer is sometimes long in coming, we can rest in hope because His ears are always attentive to the cries of His children.

The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry.(Psalm 34:15 NIV)

7. God is trustworthy.

It took me many years to learn to trust God. Frankly, I’m still learning. Every detour from the path I think I should be on invites me to revisit my faith and confidence. Ultimately, my response comes down to one question: Do I trust God? Do I believe He knows what’s best for me, even when it looks different than what I’d hoped for? Can God use hardship, trials, sickness, and loss for my good and His glory? Is His holy plan better than my human plan?

As for God, his way is perfect. (Psalm 18:30 NIV)

8. God renews us day by day.

Mothers are the hardest working people on the planet. I don’t have statistical data to back this up, but I know from experience that, unlike other professions or callings, a mother’s job never ends. From before her first child awakens to long after her last child closes his eyes, she is working. 

Nurse, educator, counselor, chauffeur, housekeeper, shopper, seamstress, chef, instructor, advisor, the job description goes on and on. Only through the supernatural empowering of the Holy Spirit can we even begin to accomplish our to-do list. The good news, the hope-filled news, is that each morning brings new mercies and a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit when we admit our helplessness and lean on God’s strength.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV)

9. God never wastes pain.

Jesus warned His disciples that we would have trouble in this life. We’re not immune to the effects of living in a sinful world. Sickness, loss, trials, and a multitude of other challenges can cause us to doubt God’s purposes. “Why, Lord?” we ask, and wonder if God is cruel. Or, worse yet, that He doesn’t care at all. The Bible assures us that while we may not understand why, we can hope in the promise that God never wastes pain. He always uses it to accomplish His purposes in our lives.

We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3–5 NIV)

10. God is generous.

For many years, I subconsciously viewed God as a miser. Verses like 1 Timothy 6:8 ESV, “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content,” led me to believe God was a minimalist. That He would fulfill His obligation to feed and clothe me, but nothing more. 

But the more I read God’s Word and learned His character, I discovered that our Father in heaven loves to “give good things to those who ask him” (Matt. 7:11 NIV). He invites us to “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10 NIV). He delights in blessing us with unexpected demonstrations of His love.

No good thing does he withhold 
from those who walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11 ESV)

I pray that these ten biblical reasons and the thousands more tucked into the pages of Scripture will “fill you with all joy and peace” and cause you to “overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13 NIV).

May hope swim in your life forever.

Note: This article contains adapted excerpts from the book Refresh Your Hope: 60 Devotions for Trusting God with All Your Heart, and is used with permission from Our Daily Bread Publishing (OurDailyBread.org).

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Emily Dickinson, “Hope Is the Thing with Feathers (254),” Poets.org (Academy of American Poets), accessed January 6, 2023, https://poets.org/poem/hope-thing-feathers-254.

2 J. I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom, Never Beyond Hope: How God Touches and Uses Imperfect People (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2000), 15.

3 C. H. Spurgeon, “Unanswered Prayer (no. 3344),” Christian Classics Ethereal Library, accessed July 14, 2021, https://ccel.org/ccel/spurgeon/sermons59/sermons59.x.html.

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