Finding Hope

PICTURE CAPTION




PURPOSE: Finding Hope for Life in God

SUMMARY: God proved to Ella that He could give life new meaning, purpose, and direction. Ella shares how God helped her in hope that some day Nick will search for God's direction for his life and overcome his depression.

Finding Hope

NICK IS DEPRESSED and suffering. Ella loves him and wants to help, but he will not listen. Nick thinks that Ella doesn’t understand, but she does. Ella felt the same so many times before, oh so long ago. Ella found hope in a way that Nick rejects.

Nick blames everyone else for how he feels in life. Nick blames Ella. He blames the world for not giving him a better life. What hurts Ella most is that he blames her, but will not let her help. Ella does know how he feels. She does know what it feels like to think that life is hopeless, purposeless, and joyless. Ella also knows that it can stop, but Nick will not listen. Nick rejects the idea that God can change the way you view life to find peace and joy.

Ella’s Early Days

ELLA UNDERSTANDS BECAUSE she also was depressed when she was young. Ella hated her life and blamed everyone for her problems.

Ella’s parents did not give her anything that the other children had. Her mother always wanted Ella to be different. Her parents acted strangely, fearing everything in life, filling her with fear so she could do nothing about her future.

Ella was stuck, trapped in a pitiful existence. She was sad, lonely, and full of hatred towards everyone.

Ella understands how Nick feels. She understands that he sees himself getting older and feels a lack of accomplishment. She understands that he feels stuck in his job, unable to quit because he needs the income, unable to move on because he feels there is nowhere to go.

Looking Forward to the Future

NICK FEELS THAT life is hopeless. He feels that he has nowhere to go because he is too old to start a new career. He feels lack of satisfaction in his job. He is unappreciated at work. If he left, no one would care.

Nick refuses to look for anything that he could do to change his life because he feels there is no hope. He needs to move on, to try something new, but he does not know how because he feels he cannot quit his present job and lose his present income.

Nick hates life. He hates everything. He refuses to open up to anyone. He feels no love. He only feels hate and envy.

What can he do? What could Ella do? At one time, Ella was a poor woman, left alone to raise her children. What could she do? She could not afford school for herself. She could not afford food, clothing, and shelter for her family. She needed to do something, but had nothing. What could she do?

Ella could have given up. She could have applied for welfare and tried to have others take care of her. She could have cried in self-pity for a life with no purpose. She had children, but no life, no goals. Sure, Ella’s life had things to bring her joy. She could be glad that she had children and loved them dearly. Ella did feel blessed to have a wonderful family, even if she did miss having a loving husband. However, life was hard. She needed to make it better. She needed more.

Ella needed to do something to change her life. At first, she just blamed others. She sat and blamed her parents for not doing a better job at training her. She blamed her graded school for not helping her socially, for not teaching her how to deal with others, for not teaching her how to support a family.

For a while, Ella lived in blame. Then, she decided that living this way was getting her nothing. She knew she needed to do more, but she had no idea what. Ella went to career counselors. They were of no help. She could see them helping people get into careers which would not make enough money to pay back their student loans, not to mention enough to support a family.

Ella did not know where to go. She had nowhere to turn. She turned to the only place she knew that would work. In the past, Ella had felt as though only the weak and helpless would turn to God to make their lives better. Finally, Ella had found nowhere else to turn. Ella cried out to God for help, for guidance and direction, and He gave it to her, and has been guiding her ever since.

God Gives Direction

ELLA CRIED, “GOD, I need to find some way to make my life work out, to support my family.”

Ella had thought that God was a crutch for poor and weak people. In a way, she was right. She was poor and weak. She did need a crutch. Ella had to admit that she could not handle life alone. She had to be willing to allow God to help.

Nick does not believe in God. He thinks God is for uneducated people who continue to live in the dark ages. In a way, he also is right. Religion has not changed since the dark ages. God was there then. God is here the same now. We are no smarter than the people were a thousand years ago, or thousands of years ago.

At that time, people knew that they could not handle life on their own. They would try, and fail. Only after they tried on their own and failed would they turn to God. Amazingly, He was there to help them, just as He is here to help us now.

God gave Ella direction. God turned her life around. She did not know where to go. She did not know what she should be in life. She did not know what would give her life a purpose. When she could not find the answers on her own, Ella finally turned to God, and He showed her the way.

God Promises the Way

GOD PROMISES TO show us the way to a better life. Jesus said in Matthew 7:8-9, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For whoever asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

This may sound like a silly sentence. Nick would think this sentence is total nonsense. If there is no God, there is no one to ask, no one to open the door. What door would there be to open, even if we did knock?

The door that needs to be opened is the door of life. The door of life is the door that will give your life hope and purpose. However, the door will not be opened if you do not knock.

That is why Ella feels so bad for her friend. Nick does not believe that there is a God. He cannot knock because he does not believe there is a door, or anyone to answer. He does not believe, so he does not ask, so he does not receive.

Gaining the World

ELLA DID KNOCK. She knocked, and the door was opened. Nick needs to receive. Nick needs hope for his life. Nick needs a purpose for his life. Nick is too smart to need God. Nick needs no one. Unfortunately, Nick gets no one.

No one can help Nick because he asks no one for help. Nick believes that there is no one to help, so he does not ask. Ella would love to help him, but she cannot. She would love to ask for him, but she cannot.

Ella loves her friend Nick and wants to see him happy. She would love to pray for Nick and have him believe in God so that he would ask God for help. She would love to be able to ask God for help for Nick so that he does not need to ask himself.

God does not work that way. God requires each person to come to Him on his or her own. Ella has prayed for Nick, and will continue to pray for him. However, Ella knows she cannot pray for help for Nick and have it do any good because God requires each person to come to Him on his own.

God refuses to force Himself on anyone. Ella cannot force God on Nick, as much as she would like to do so. Ella would love to be able to make him believe so he could get the help for his life that he needs. She sees him unhappy and floundering. Ella is not unhappy.

She trusts that God will guide her into what He would have her to do each day. Ella knows that she can do no more than God would have her to do each day. Ella is satisfied when she does what she believes God is leading her to do each day.

Beginning the Day in Prayer

EACH MORNING, ELLA begins on her knees in prayer. Ella knows it may sound strange to be on her knees to pray, but she believes that God is worth the extra effort and respect she is showing to Him. She knows that she has been able to do so many things in her life that she never would have been able to do without God’s guidance.

If Ella had not received God’s guidance, she never would have made it into college. She did not have enough confidence to make it on her own. She never would have believed that she could have made it through college when she did not even know how to turn on a computer. Ella knows that she could never have made it on her own. Each time she faced a trial and she did not know what to do, she would stop and pray. Ella would pray and pray until an answer would come.

Nick would say that Ella did not need God, that Ella did it on her own. Nick would say that Ella’s stopping to pray gave her time to think, to figure things out on her own.

Nick might be right, but, if he is so smart, why has he been suffering with the same questions for the last five years? If he does not need a make-believe god to guide him in his life, why does he have no direction?

One can have direction without God. Many people can figure out on their own how to make their lives seem to work. However, even those who seem to make their lives work without God are missing what God intended their lives to be.

We cannot have a better goal in life than the goal that God gives to us. The goals given to us by God will do something for us that our own goals will not do. Our own goals will not give us fulfillment like following God’s goals for us will do.

Maybe Ella could have figured out on her own to go to college. But, she does not believe she ever would have had the courage without knowing God. Perhaps, she could have made it on her own, but that would not have gotten her where she is today.

God knows all of the important things in life. He knows we can build buildings, but He also knows they will not last for long. Some buildings last for hundreds of years, but they are few. Most buildings last a time, and are then gone. What is gone, leaves an emptiness.

Even gaining leaves an emptiness when the conquest is won. “A conquest is only a conquest until it is conquered, at which time it becomes a possession for us to use, abuse, and throw away.” Making it to the top leaves nowhere to go but down. Stepping to the top brings satisfaction in succeeding, but once you have succeeded for a while, you are empty. You have the success, but so what? What difference does it make that you made it through a struggle, or even to the top.

Many stars feel this way when they succeed. They get to the top only to find it empty. They need something more in their life.

Nick feels depressed because he feels that he has no way to succeed in his life. But, Ella knows that even if he does succeed, he will still be depressed. Ella knows that nothing is good enough to make you feel like your life is worth living, to make you feel like you are gaining on life.

Life Brings Death

LIFE IS SHORT. Even if we do gain in life, become a success in business, what difference does it make in the long run? Eventually, we all end up the same way, dead.

Nick has nowhere to go with his life to get ahead. He has not been able to figure out what to do with his life on his own, and he refuses to lower himself to ask a God he does not believe in for help. If he would only ask, he would receive, but he will not ask.

Would he not be better off if he at least tried. He will not admit that he needs help, but he is depressed. He does need help. He is not doing it on his own. God will not change Nick for Ella. She can see him suffering, and ask God for help for her friend, but she knows that God will not change anyone without him coming to God on his own.

Ella must accept this, as hard as it is for her to see her friend suffer. Ella also suffered, but suffers no more. God helped her, and continues to help her each day. She made it up the corporate ladder with God’s help. If Ella had not received God’s help, her life would still be empty. She may have made it up the ladder, but when she got to the top, she found out that there is no meaning to being at the top. Ella found out that the only meaning to life that brings any joy is through God. God fills her with joy when she does what He guides her to do each day.

Back on Her Knees

ELLA GETS DOWN on her knees to pray because she worships someone who is mightier than she is. Ella makes Him higher than she is by getting down on her knees. She thinks God is worth humbling herself by getting down on her knees. No matter how foolish she may feel, she feels God is worth it. Others may ridicule her, but she will refuse to let what others think be more important to her than pleasing God.

God is worth the most. Ella will fail. Ella wishes she would not. She wishes she would follow God and not waste her time doing dumb things for herself. Each time Ella does fail, she knows she must turn back to the one who knows better, she knows she must turn back to God, get back on her knees and turn back to looking for God’s will for her life.

God gave us the Bible as a guidebook for our lives. If the book seems too difficult to understand, God gives us His Holy Spirit to reveal the meaning of the words. All we have to do is pray. All we have to do is knock, and it will be opened. All we have to do is to give up what we think for what God thinks.

Ella has to get on her knees to remind herself that God is the one with the wisdom to make life work out. Ella has to get on her knees to remind herself that she was not able to guide herself out of self-pity, envy, and depression, but God who was able. God is able.

God is able to fill our lives with joy even when life seems to be falling apart. He can take care of us when He sees that we have no job. He can feed us when we are wandering in the desert.

Getting Out

GOD GOT ELLA out of depression and led her into a fulfilling life. God could do the same for Nick. All Nick needs to be happy is to stop…to stop rejecting Jesus, and receive HOPE IN GOD that brings joy, peace, and fulfillment to life.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will guide your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

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