Hopeless, end of ropeHave you ever lost all hope? Perhaps you had a big stack of bills, but not a dime in your bank account. Maybe he walked out the door and refused to even talk about a future. Or the doctor made a grim diagnosis with no viable treatment.

Just this morning I read about a hopeless situation in the life of the Apostle Paul. A prisoner of the Roman government, he was sailing to Italy under guard so Caesar could hear his case. During the journey, the ship encountered a storm with hurricane force winds. Paul’s traveling companion, Luke, described the scene for us.

We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved. Acts 27:18-20, NIV

The men on the ship battled the storm for two weeks. They went without food. They sacrificed all the cargo and tackle. They did everything within their power to save themselves. Then, when they saw no way out, when they could do nothing more, they gave up.

But God had other plans and while the storm raged, He shared them with Paul in a dream (Acts 27:21-26). He wanted Paul to testify about Christ before Caesar in Rome. In His sovereign will and in His goodness to His child, God’s grace spilled over to everyone on the ship. The vessel ran aground off the island of Malta and everyone on board got to shore safely. Just as God had said, “not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.”

The men had no control over their dire situation. But God did. When they reached the end of their hope, God stepped in. And He turned hopelessness into an occasion for praise and thanksgiving.

Are you at the end of your hope right now? It’s really a good place to be. When we stop hoping in an outcome, then we can begin to depend on God. When we stop depending on our own ability to fix things, then we will see the things that only God can do.

What have you seen God do in “totally hopeless” situations?

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