The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

May 10, 2013

Hopelessness can result if we look more at problem and less at Jesus

From the Pulpit

By Pastor James D. Fleck

---- — Your rent or mortgage is due, you or your children require medical attention, your hours at work have been cut and you really don’t know where the money is going to come from to take care of your financial obligations. You sit down to relax, turn on the TV and the news comes on announcing another bombing, another murder or the financial demise of a business you depended on. Are you feeling hopeless yet? Do you feel that tightening in your stomach or the pressure pounding in your head? I know I have and it’s not a pleasant feeling. I want to take a few moments of your time and share with you a possible cause and the solution to help you regain your footing.

Webster defines hopeless as “having no expectation of good or success; despairing, not susceptible to remedy or cure; desperate; impossible.” What causes us to get into this type of condition? We lose our focus. In Matthew 14, we see the disciples entering into their boat to cross over the sea to Capernaum. The wind became very strong and the boat was being tossed around on the rolling sea. Jesus walks on the water to their location and Peter asks to join Him. Peter steps out of the boat and begins to go toward Him but his focus is drawn away from Jesus and he now begins to look at the effects of the wind. When this happens, Peter begins to sink and he calls out for help to Jesus, who then reaches out and picks him up.

So what caused Peter to sink? It wasn’t the strong winds but the fact that he took his eyes off Jesus. Now as he was sinking, he quickly called out to Jesus for help and that is where he found his deliverance. Peter’s hopelessness came when his attention centered upon his problem.

In my own life, feelings of despair have come when I began to look at all the problems around me and didn’t look to Jesus as my ever-present help in the time of need. Isaiah 26:3 tells us to keep our mind stayed or anchored on God and He will keep us in perfect peace. Notice Isaiah encouraged his readers to keep their focus on God.

The Psalms speak of a man who was almost swallowed up in hopelessness. Asaph shares his story in Psalms 73. It is important to note that he was one of King David’s chief worship leaders. His position itself would seem to imply that he was one close to God and immune to the everyday problems we face, but this was not the case. He took his eyes off God and, with distorted vision, began to see his life as a failure and the lives of those who did not serve God as carefree and void of any trouble. He shares that he was envious of the boastful when he saw the prosperity of the wicked. He felt he had kept his heart pure before God in vain.

Have you ever looked at someone and become envious of their apparent good fortune or success? Has it caused you to fall into a “poor me” mentality? Let’s look back at Asaph and see if he found any help. Verse 17 says, “Until I went into the sanctuary of God: Then I understood their end.”

In the Old Testament, the presence of God was found in the sanctuary. So Asaph went into the sanctuary with the presence of God and refocused his attention to Him. He saw the reality of what would happen to those who did not follow God and now, instead of being envious, he was grieved from their lost souls. He was able to shed his hopelessness and regain his place of productive service for God.

Hopelessness is often caused by taking our eyes off Jesus and focusing on our negative circumstances and other people of affluence. The Apostle Paul encouraged us to think on good things and the writer of Hebrews said to look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. So don’t quit, don’t give up and keep your eyes on Jesus.

James Fleck is pastor of Oasis Family Worship Center, Hermitage.