I once heard someone say that Christians should never use the word “hopeless.”
Years later, this phrase still haunts me.
It haunts me because I’m regularly tempted to look at situations and label them hopeless. And I’m sure you are too, whether it’s in regards to the homeless man who asks you for change every day, a difficult relationship in your life, or that one situation you’ve been praying for.
I’ve been blogging through old notes written generations ago by some of my family members, the Talleys. And one note I came across led me to imagine that the Talley family dealt with hopelessness as well.
Three out of five of Mr. and Mrs. Talley’s sons became Methodist ministers. Their only daughter was active in the church. This left two adult sons, John Wesley and Elkanah, who did not know Christ as Savior and cared little about the church.
I imagine that hopelessness set in after John and Elkanah’s parents and siblings had prayed and shared God’s love with them for many years with no response. I imagine that they were tempted to think, and at times thought, that their family members would never experience God’s saving grace and the beauty of the church themselves.
But John Wesley Talley’s testimony reveals that such hopelessness would have ultimately been misguided:
“With such surroundings at home and the examples of my three oldest brothers, William, Alexander, and Nicholas, who had embraced religion and entered the Itinerancy, brother Nathan a local minister and brother Caleb a layman, and an only sister in the church, myself and brother Elkanah remained without religion;
Elkanah was the fifth son and I was the seventh.
That we should have resisted so long surrounded with such light is a wonder to me, but that the long sufferings of God should have continued toward us, the two wayward sinners is a miracle of grace, through the importunity of faith by the now sainted ones.
During the vacation of the school I was attending at Salem, Clark County, GA I went with the family to a camp meeting at Liberty Chapel, Green County. I had been much impressed and brought by the Spirit’s power and influence to see that I was a sinner. The light of the Bible, the godly lives of Stepfather, Mr. John Walker, & Mother, the prayers of a family resisted, overwhelmed me with deep dawning in gratitude toward Jesus Christ and God’s forbearance still to bear with me. I, by grace, resolved to give myself to God and seek his pardon and be reconciled to Jesus Christ my Saviour.”
Nothing is hopeless with God in view.
The disciples thought things were hopeless when Jesus was crucified. But three days later he showed them that he had conquered death. The outcasts in Israel thought they would never have any friends, until Jesus showed them that a new Kingdom on earth was being established that put them at the center. Sinners who thought they had no hope of ever being in a relationship with God found their situation transformed when Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.”
And this transforming power of God is still available to us today through the Holy Spirit.
What situation or person in your life have you been tempted to give up on? Where have you seen God transform your hopelessness into hope in the past?
This is the third post in a series that highlights the writings of my 19th century ancestors.