There is little worse than hopelessness. It is the idea that things are bad and nothing can improve them. We have all been there. Previously, we wrote of hopelessness and its impact on the Christian. A Christian feels hopeless when he is separated from God. There is growing distance between him and his Lord. The two are estranged.
“And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee” (Luke 15:17, 18)
Here is the climax of the parable of the prodigal son, told by Jesus, recorded by Luke in Luke 15:11-32. The prodigal son embodies hopelessness. But, he also overcame the darkness.
The prodigal son was hopeless because of his own actions.
It was not the father who drove the son away. The son left of his own desire.
‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. (Luke 15:12, 13)
Though not pleasant to hear; we are often hopeless because of our own actions. In our parable, the son left, not the father. So often we find ourselves in trouble and have no one to blame except the man in the mirror.
To avoid ongoing, never-ending despair we must look to the actual reasons behind our struggles. Ask, “What bad choices put me here? What is my personal role in my struggles? Only by answering this probing question can we hope to avoid repeating personal history.
The prodigal son beat hopelessness.
Imagine the youth’s surroundings. He was broke. He was friendless. He was estranged from the only people who really loved him. Some would say he was a “rock-bottom.” Like a recovering alcoholic, he had to admit that he had a problem. Verse 17 begins, “…he came to himself.”
We must admit our own shortcomings and we must come to ourselves. It is never an easy moment but it is crucial to breaking free of a hopeless life. The prodigal son could not expect any improvement until he made a change. Likewise, your life will not change until you accept your own weakness and come to the rock that is higher than you (Psalm 61:2).
Hopelessness flees when plans take shape.
Plans and hopelessness cannot coexist. The person with a plan has a vision. He has hope.
The prodigal was coming home!
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” ’ (Luke 15:17-19)
Developing a plan is hard. It requires thought, reflection and an analysis of your present condition, available helps, and goals. You do not need to plan your escape alone. Reach out to others who can help and guide. Solomon said:
“Listen to advice and accept instruction,
that you may gain wisdom in the future.” (Proverbs 19:20)
Hopelessness is beaten.
Picture the moment: The prodigal has been traveling from a far country. The road has become familiar. He remembers his youth, playing long the road, climbing the trees and enjoying the frivolity of youth. He tops the last hill and looks toward his home. There, in the distance he sees his home. And then he sees an old man running toward him. Is it? Could it be? It is!
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)
In the moment of new found unity with his father – with his daddy – hopelessness was gone. He was no longer a hopeless, hapless, young man who had squandered his money. Joy filled the father! Joy filled the son! Joy filled the house!
The embarrassed, trouble youth that was once trodding the mire of the pig pens is now free of his self-imposed struggles. He is home!
If you are far from God, come home! Do not live another day in a world that cares nothing for you. Come home! Our Father waits for you and we stand with him. You are missed! Come home!
Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at preachersstudyblog.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @J_Bryant_Evans.