Hope vs Hopelessness

Continuing journey through Max Lucado’s “Traveling Light” – Chapter 7
It’s a Jungle Out There – The Burden of Hopelessness

He restores my soul – Psalm 23:3 NKJV

So after reading Chapter 7 I came to a few conclusions about how I thought this chapter might relate to the grief journey. In thinking back to a time early in my journey I couldn’t see any hope. I don’t even think I could define hope. So what did I do? I read every piece of scripture I could so that I envision what hope might feel like.

I have read numerous books by authors who have gone before me in this journey and there always seemed to be one clear similarity and that is hope is rooted in the faith that gives you strength to hold on.

By holding on I mean through the darkest of hours, the most searing pain, the moments when the light at the end of the tunnel seems too far to reach, that life seems meaningless in the face of grief; you can find hope.

In the book Lucado compares hopelessness like an “odd bag” unlike other bags that are full, he describes the bag of hopelessness as a bag that is empty. More importantly he relates that the empty bag creates an “exhausting burden”.  I get that. I see that. I have felt that.

Have you ever turned your purse or bag upside down looking for your keys, your glasses, your lipstick but to no avail you cannot find it. No matter how hard you shake it – nothing. But the bag of hopelessness is empty – very empty – painfully empty.

It’s hard to see hope when you are filled with emptiness. Right. So what can you do until your hope returns? You need someone in your life that can hold  you accountable. Who is not afraid to hang with you. Who can handle spending the time and energy it takes to create a sense of fellowship that will make a grieving person feel safe.

Safe enough to have this person look them straight in the eyes and say “hang on”. Because when you are blinded by grief, no matter the cause, you can’t see the road in front of you. All that is illuminated is the sorrow that fills your heart. The path of darkness is narrow and winding.

I recently heard that a person without a vision is lost. That comment was made to a describe a person without goals or a plan. But it can also be used to describe a grieving heart. The capacity to see past the pain is severely limited. Finding, having and keep hope alive is key to opening the heart to see the way out.

In those early days – I spent many hours looking at scripture because it was my only comfort. I was looking earnestly for any crumb of hope to hang on to. God’s word can and did bring such comfort. I know because it has gotten me to this point. The point where I can remain hopeful.

Even though you remain in your situation. Your loss is still painfully there. In my case living a life without my daughter, I have hope; direction and restoration because I took that bag of hopelessness and let God fill it up with many things. God can do that for you too.

Things like: scripture, friends, family, vision and hope. Having hope has led me on my personal journey to find my purpose. But here’s the kick – it doesn’t happen over night. Some days it’s as if I have been temporarily blinded to the hope. But as I return to what I know works – God – I am renewed again.

That the best hope of all.

Until next time,


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