What to Do When Hope is Exhausted

Video Transcript

In truth, so many Christians are discouraged and are losing hope, that’s why part of last week’s sermon was about the weariness and the tiredness of people. The Bible says this about Abraham, ‘against all hope, he hoped’ (Romans 4:18) So, there’s obviously a place where even without hope and when we are so tired spiritually that we can still find hope but we mustn’t be flippant about how people get to a place of hopelessness. Sometimes there can indeed be a supernatural injection of hope that God gives us, but it’s not normally the process, so let me give a few tips:  

I’ll share one of the most moving passages for me in all scripture; Mark 2, where the paralytic man wants to see Jesus but he can’t get to him. I want to give this a spiritual perspective, note that the paralytic is not someone who is dead, it’s just someone who is immobile and many times in our Christian faith, we are not dead, we are just immobile – hope makes us mobile. There are times there is a deluge of bad news that can put even those who believe in God and who even believe that bad things sometimes happen in a very bad state. Oftentimes, it seems we believe in God and that trials can come our way but we don’t expect some level of trials. It seems we are saying, “God, you know my doctrine is sound, my behaviour has been so good that it is only this amount of trial I should get but not this other type of trial” This shows a certain level of falsehood in us. I have had to admit this many times in my life. In 2018, when I thought I was diagnosed with a deadly illness and was going to die in less than three years, I was confronted with the fact that my ministry and my wife actually meant more to me than God did. Often, we have settled for the fact that we deserve a certain level of comfort and are immune from some kind of tragedies because of the way we have served God but you cannot be further away from the truth of the Bible than that, why? Because no one served God more perfectly than Jesus Christ and we all know what Jesus’ fate was. If we are followers of Jesus, we have to come to the reality of the fact that sometimes, even in our faithfulness, certain tragedies come our way. The mystery of sin is that it can seem random, where the person who does not serve God is prospering while the faithful suffer, as the Psalmist said in Psalm 73:3, “For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked”  

I have seen the person who was most instrumental in my salvation go through bouts of poverty where nothing was working for him, he eventually moved out of the country but was struggling, he tried to get a job but it did not last because of an illness. He was then trying to do a Master’s degree but got Glaucoma and so was barely able to finish his degree, he got surgery and through fasting and prayers got better, got a PhD admission, and then started to lose his voice. He kind of gets back on his feet but after, I heard he has cancer and it all makes me wonder, “this man is a much godlier man than I am, I should have gotten some of that suffering, he doesn’t need to have all of these, God give this man a break”  

The mystery of sin is not just that it has broken the world but sometimes it breaks the world in different places in ways we don’t understand. Sometimes, people are going from one tragedy to another other like someone for whom I had just prayed for some semblance of stability and as this person was getting some stability, I hear another bad news and I remember that day I shouted, “God I don’t know what you are doing” and the truth is I didn’t. But I know God is good, I know God is good because if God were not good I won’t even be able to shout to God and say, “What are you doing?”, the only basis upon which we can have right or wrong is the fact that there is a good God, if there is no good God, we shouldn’t even ask the question about the tragedy.

“If God were not good, there will be no basis for us to lament about our tragedy”


I don’t always understand but then, I see Jesus and I know God is not aloof because Jesus is not just a messenger, Jesus is God, God himself who came to earth. This assures me that God is not aloof to our suffering but more so, I look to the end and I see that God has done something about our suffering, he is going to conquer evil again at the resurrection of Jesus. So what do we do when we are in that place of hopelessness? The paralytic! He was not dead but he was immobile and there are times when your faith won’t be enough, you need other people with faith. The paralytic man had friends that brought him to Jesus, they opened the roof and they lowered him down and Jesus saw his faith, it was the faith of a paralytic, it’s not that it wasn’t there, it was there but it couldn’t move, it was the faith of his friends who brought him to Jesus that could move and when Jesus saw the faith of his friends, Jesus healed him and forgave his sins.  

I cannot lie to you, there is no substitute, especially when you are weary, there is no substitute for godly friends in Christ who are there to encourage, listen and be patient with you. Ask anyone who has come through a very dark season, they might say they read an article that helped them but someone sent them the article. Some might even think they were just doing it on their own but are unaware that there are people who were consistently praying for them, ‘carrying them to Jesus’. That was the problem with Job’s friends. Remember the Bible said about Job’s friends that they were quiet for seven days, it was after they opened their mouths that the problem started. They were not encouraging Job but were condemning him, they were like ‘Job, everything you are going through can be solved if you just ask God for forgiveness because it is not possible for you to be going through all of these if you were not actually living as a terrible sinner, so just confess,” so they were saying truths and good things about God but weaponised and misapplied them to Job. May God not give us miserable friends like that, that’s why Job’s friends were called ‘miserable comforters’ but may God give us the other kind of comforters. Sometimes, when people are going through immense suffering, that is when the foundation of what they believe about God is rocked. Jude 1:22 says ‘be merciful to those who doubt’ and so you stay with them, you allow them to vent, you allow them to say the things they feel but what they need from you, more than anything, is not for you to doubt like them, they need you to be rock solid and somehow, with your prayers, patience and presence, you are showing them that you have not deserted them because they are in a season of doubt and hopelessness and somehow light breaks forth. So when we are in a place of hopelessness, God always puts hope in people around us, that’s why I tell people, “please don’t wait until the time that you are hopeless to find community” You may not be able to reach out to the people you need by that time.

“In times of hopelessness, there is no substitute for godly friends”


Satan’s last weapon after he has brought hopelessness is loneliness. Hopelessness plus loneliness eventually leads to the end. Judas was a thief and was not connected to the community, so when he betrayed Jesus, he had nobody to go to, which is why he committed suicide. Peter, on the other hand, after denying Jesus three times, was fishing with some of his friends, even though he was without hope, Jesus came and restored him. So that’s the one thing I would leave with us: Have a community of people you meet with regularly so that when you are down, they will be there for you.

Answered by Femi Osunnuyi is lead pastor of City Church, a gospel-centred urban church in the city of Lagos. Because of his passion for church planting and leadership development he also serves on the Lead Team of Acts29 and the Advisory Team of City to City Africa. He is happily married to Tosin and is father to Tofunmi and Timilehin.