Where is God? I'm Losing Hope

Sermon Transcript/Article: Where is God? I’m Losing Hope.
Many of you might be smack in the middle of a terrible situation. If not, then you’ve had one in the past. You may be wondering – Where is God in all of this? I want to trust Him. I know He’s here. But I just don’t feel His presence or see Him working in my life. Well – that’s where you’re faith in God really starts to grow. Because faith is all about believing and trusting when we don’t see it. When we decide to keep trusting God no matter what, we won’t lose hope. My purpose for this message is to encourage you to make Jesus the foundation of your hope so that no matter how bad your life gets you won’t give up and become hopeless.
Jesus is the God of hope. In Ephesians 4 we read that Jesus is called our one hope. In Hebrews 7 He is our better hope – better than the old system of commandments. In 2 Thessalonians 2 Jesus is our good hope – the one that will encourage our hearts and strengthen us. In 1 Peter 1 He is our living hope – He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In Titus 2 He is called the blessed hope – we wait for the blessed hope, the God that brings salvation who will gloriously appear. And in Proverbs 23, Jesus is our future hope –There is surely a future hope for us and we will not be left with nothing. We can hope in Jesus, because He is hope. Jesus is better than the old law and its commandments. He overcame death and was resurrected into heaven. He will return from heaven and resurrect His followers to live with Him for eternity. If Jesus can do all of that, than He can help us with our problems, too.
One of God’s characteristics is that He is omnipotent, meaning that He is all-powerful. God’s power is not restrained in anyway by anyone. He can do anything that He pleases, but He will never do something that violates His other attributes. We may have a tough situation beyond our control, but we can count on the omnipotence of God to help us. Our all-powerful God gives us power in our weakness. Because nothing is too hard for Him, our needs and problems aren’t too complicated for Him to solve. We are told in Isaiah 40:20 that God gives power to those who are tired and worn out. He offers strength to the weak.
I wouldn’t be trying to encourage you if I didn’t know what it was like to feel hopeless. This is kind of embarrassing to admit, but I remember a time when I was right in the middle of feeling extremely hopeless and my only goal in life was to just keep surviving until it was time to die. My only aspiration was to survive. I believed in God. I was commitment to following Jesus. But I felt like the problem was so overwhelming that I couldn’t find any hope of it ever getting better. Well, now that I’ve come through that stressful time, I do see how He blessed me. He taught me so much and He strengthened my Christian faith. He also helped me to grow in so many different areas of my life beyond just spiritual, because I endured, persevered and became strengthened through the struggle.
Everyone’s situation is going to be different, so there isn’t a certain formula to follow for trusting Jesus. But it starts with going to God first, because that shows we are acknowledging that He is our foundation of hope. And then it requires that we hold on and keep trusting, even if it’s for a really long time. Like it says in Romans 5:3-5 our problems will develop our perseverance, leading to good character, and giving us hope. And we must hang on to that hope that God will come through and not disappoint us. One day, the problem will be over, you will be an overcomer, and looking back you will be able to see that God was present and that He was helping you.
There are so many stories in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, about people who were in seemingly hopeless situations but they actually overcame because God was with them in their situation. It was hard to choose just one story. But I settled on Joseph, the son of Jacob and Rachel. His story is covered in the book of Genesis starting in chapter 37 and continuing to chapter 50. I’m just going to paraphrase the story because it’s so long, but you can read it for yourself.
17 year old Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son and his brothers knew it. This led to jealously and hatred. Their hatred became even worse when Joseph bragged about the dreams he was having that he would rule over his brothers and parents. The brothers despised Joseph to the point where they wanted him dead. Fortunately, the oldest brother Rueben intervened so they settled for sticking Joseph in an empty cistern in the ground and then sold him off as a slave to a caravan of Ishmaelite’s on their way to Egypt. Now I know that Joseph probably really irritated his brothers, but no one ever deserves abuse or to be sold into slavery. In Egypt, Joseph was sold to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials. And then the Bible tells us in Genesis 39 verse 2 – “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.” So despite the abuse of his brothers, being uprooted from his normal life, and being sold as a slave – the Lord was still with Joseph. Joseph was treated pretty well in Egypt until Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him of sexual harassment. Then Joseph was sent to jail. But verse 39:21 says – “the Lord was with Him; He showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.” And then verse 23 states – “The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.” God used Joseph to interpret dreams and to prophecy about the coming famine. In chapter 41 verse 41 we are told that at 30 years old Joseph was in charge of managing the entire country of Egypt. Joseph realized how blessed he was and acknowledged God’s provision by naming his children Manasseh and Ephraim in honor of God. Manasseh means “forget” – Joseph said that God made him forget all of his hardships and his father’s home. Ephraim means “double prosperity”.

Joseph said that God prospered him in the land of his suffering and sorrow. The story continues on and Joseph is eventually reunited with his brothers and father and there is forgiveness and reconciliation. I’ll actually read now from chapter 45 verses 1-11 which shows how Joseph reflected back on his problems and suffering yet saw that they were used by God not only to benefit himself but many other people too.

(Read Genesis 45:1-11)
Joseph’s story of abuse, rejection, slavery, false accusation, and imprisonment is still being talked about today. God is using Joseph’s experiences to teach us and to give us hope. And God can use your story of how you overcame hopelessness to help other people. Your story can have a bigger, eternal purpose that glorifies God. In Joseph’s story, we saw a reoccurring statement: “The Lord was with Joseph.” As I was reading other stories in the Old Testament, I discovered that the Lord was with other people, too. The preincarnate Christ was with Hagar after Sarah mistreated her in Genesis 16 and 21. He was with Abraham before the sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22, with Jacob in a dream in 31, with Moses in a burning bush in Exodus 3, with Gideon while he was threshing wheat in Judges 6, with the mother of Samson when she believed that she was unable to have a baby in Judges 13, and with Elijah in the desert while he was praying for God to take his life in 1 Kings 19. The Lord was with all of them. And these weren’t elite, super spiritual, holier than thou people. These were normal human beings that couldn’t measure up to God’s perfect standards of holiness, yet the Lord intervened in their lives. And He intervenes in our lives, too.
On the Voice of the Martyrs website, I read an inspiring story about a group of people in Mexico that overcame their feelings of hopelessness. When 15 families told area guerilla leaders of their desire to seek God, the leaders kicked them out of their village in Chiapas, Mexico. The families slept in a stable for over a year. When the armed guerillas forced the families out of the village, they had to leave behind all of their belongings. Though they had nowhere to go and nothing to eat, no one was allowed to help them. Ruth, a volunteer at Voice of the Martyrs, went to Mexico to help anyhow. And for some reason, no one tried to stop her. As she gave the families food and water, they were so hopeless that they wouldn’t even look in her eyes. After they had eaten, Ruth showed them a Gospel tract that included a picture of baby Jesus in a manger. The families, sleeping in a stable, immediately felt a connection. They listened as Ruth shared the Gospel using the Story of Jesus tract, and they were moved that God understood their circumstances. They placed their trust in Jesus that day. Ruth and the local church continued to visit the new Christians and provided for their needs. Together, they prayed that God would provide a way for them to get their own land. Several months later, the Mexican government interceded by providing them with over 7 acres of land and paying 75% of the funds. The families built homes from used construction materials. There was no running water, so they used a hose that brought water from the mountain onto the property. Sometimes the guerilla leaders would cut the hose with machetes to harass them. After visiting their homes, the families took Voice of the Martyrs workers to see the place where they would build a church and a school. Ruth had encouraged them to dedicate a portion of the land for a church since God had provided land for them.
I thought that was a neat story. Although those people lived as refugees for a year, God sent help and now they have their own homes on their own land. And most importantly, they became followers of Christ. But really – we don’t want to go through that kind of suffering. We really just want God to change our circumstances. In actuality, He is God, He could do it. But hope is not based on circumstances. It’s not based on what someone else must do or must stop doing. Hope is based on Jesus. When everything else seems to be falling apart, we have to have our stability in Jesus. The Bible says that He won’t fail us. Our problems are like a big storm. And we must weather the storm, and some storms will last a long time. But they will end. You have to believe that.
Our Bible tells us over and over that we can trust in God and find our hope in Him. Lamentations 3:25 The Lord is good to those who hope in Him, to the one who seeks Him. Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 5:5 Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts.
This earthly life is tough. And it will continue to be tough. And some of us - will have it really, really bad. But God is with us. And we need to hang on to Hope. Whether you feel God’s presence or not, He is with you in your situation. Remember that our problems are like a storm. We must weather the storm. Like all storms, our problems will pass too. Jesus is our hope that will keep us anchored, secure, and able to endure anything.You know what I’m talking about. I’m sure some of you are absolutely shocked at what you’ve been able to endure over the years. But it will be so worth it to hang on, because when the storm is over, you will be able to look back, strengthened in your faith and then you will be able to see the mighty way that God worked in your life. So basically, what I’m asking you to do – is never give up. Hang on and grow closer to Jesus. And then, when you have overcome your problem, glorify God and appreciate that He is your foundation and sustainer of hope.
David, from the Bible, was a man that experienced many troubles over his lifetime and he even hid in caves from men who chasing him down and trying to kill him. So I’ll end with these very appreciative words written by David in Psalm 30: “I give you all the credit, God. You got me out of that mess, you didn’t let my enemies gloat. God, my God, I yelled for help and you put me together. God, you pulled me out of the grave, you gave me another chance at life when I was down-and-out. All you saints – Sing your hearts out to God. Thank him to his face. He gets angry once in a while, but across a lifetime there is only love. The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter… I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about you. God, my God, I can’t thank you enough.”

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