Losing Hope

“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit [which] was given to us.”

Romans 5:5

“I’ve lost any hope that this will get better.”

I stared at the road in front of me while my husband drove. He could tell I really meant it: my hope was fading that a broken relationship would ever be healed. His answer surprised me.

“You can still have hope. For Christians, having hope and being realistic that circumstances might not change are not opposing beliefs.”

I don’t know about you. But when I read that “hope does not disappoint” in Romans 5:5, I think, “Yeah, right. My hopes have disappointed me many times.” But this understanding of hope is different than what Paul (the writer of Romans) or my husband had in mind. 

The hope of the Bible transcends our circumstances. Notice how Paul explained why Christian hope does not disappoint: “because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit [which] was given to us.” Paul did not tell the Romans they should have hope because their circumstances would improve. He said they should have hope because they had received God’s love. In fact, He loved them so much that He even sent His Holy Spirit to live inside of them and counsel them through their circumstances (see John 14:26). We can hope today for the same reasons. 

See, my hope was misplaced. I was banking on–or placing my hope in–a healed relationship. My hope was disappointing me because this wasn’t happening. But the object of Christian hope is not validated by better circumstances but a good God, even if the people or hardships around us remain the same. 

Maybe you have a longing for a relationship to be reconciled, a person to be healed, or a situation to change. These hopes are not bad. You have a lot of them precisely because they are God-given hopes. 

God desires that my broken relationship with another person might be healed just as much as I do. As my husband reminded me, it’s okay to hope for that because God hopes for that too. But we also must remember that Christian hope makes God the ultimate focus because He does not disappoint. When I was a child, we sang a hymn in church called “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand.” It perfectly captures this Christian hope that never disappoints:

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness

I dare not trust the sweetest frame 

But wholly lean on Jesus’ name

On Christ the solid rock I stand

All other ground is sinking sand

All other ground is sinking sand 

God, thank You for the hope You offer your children that transcends any circumstances we face. Forgive me when I place my hope in anything but You. Please guard me from becoming cynical when circumstances don’t change. Help me remember that it’s okay to have hopes and desires because many of them come from You. But remind me that my ultimate hope is found in You alone because the hope You offer will never disappoint me.