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Hope for the Hopeless

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Would you join me in prayer? 
Grab your bibles and turn to the book of Matthew 9:18-26, if you need a bible just raise your hand and one of the ushers will get one to you.  it’s on page ??? in those bible’s being handed out.  The title of my message tonight is Hope for the Hopeless

Can you recall ever being in a hopeless situation?  Maybe you’re in one right now.  Hopelessness happens when you find yourself in a situation where there is no confident expectation for a positive outcome.  It’s being at the end of your rope.  Lots of things can bring us to a point of hopelessness.  The death of a spouse or child, the loss of a job, a chronic illness, a marriage on the brink of divorce, the potential of financial ruin, a prodigal son or daughter.  Some of you here tonight are in that place.  You have lost all confidence in the future; you have no confidence that things are going to work out.  You have tried everything, you have looked everywhere and things remain bleak.

I want you to leave here tonight understanding and believing that hope can be found in the power of Jesus Christ.

For others of you things are going well, everyone’s healthy, your job is secure and life is good.  And my desire is for your hope in the power of Jesus Christ to be strengthened; so that as times come in your life when the potential for hopelessness exists, you will trust the power of Jesus Christ to bring you through whatever it is you will face.

Tonight we are going to learn from the lives of a couple of individuals who find themselves in what appear to be extremely desperate circumstances but by trusting in the power of Jesus Christ they were able to have hope in their hopeless situation, and so can we. 

Mathew 9:18-26

  Before this, Jesus had just been discussing the issue of fasting with some of his disciples.  And in the midst of this discussion, it says in verse 18 that, “While he was saying these things to them...” (Read through the rest of the passage.)

There are certainly some of you here today that have experienced similar situations; the death of a child or living with a chronic illness.  Maybe you are currently facing these situations in your life.  What Matthew wants to make very clear is that hope for these situations is found in the power of Jesus Christ.  But what is hope?    

We use that word hope a lot; I was hoping that LSU would win the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  Now, is that really hope or is that just my desire?  Because here is the mistake that we make.  We use the word hope usually to convey a desire that we have for something to happen, but were not really confident it will, we’re uncertain about it.  I wanted LSU to win, but honestly, I was not real confident that they would especially since their playing North Carolina in the second round.

But in the Bible hope is characterized by certainty.  One author defines it this way, “Hope is waiting in confident expectation for God’s promises in Christ.”  In other words, hope is being confident that the power of God is going to get you through whatever your facing.

We don’t say I hope Jesus Christ comes back as if it might happen or it might not.  We say that our hope is in the return of Christ.  We know that it’s going to happen.  We are confident it’s going to happen.  That’s real hope.  We should be confident in the power of God.  We should expect him to work.  But that’s where the problem lies for many of us.  We’re not confident in the power of Jesus Christ. 

In whatever situation you are facing, if you’re not confident that God is going to act graciously and powerfully on your behalf, you don’t have hope.  You may really want things to turn out ok, but it’s not hope unless you believe confidently in the power of Jesus Christ to get you through, whatever it is you are facing. 

So how do we get hope?  How are we to be confident towards the power of Jesus Christ during hopeless situations? 

Hope is found in hopeless situations when we “Come to Christ.”

Take a look at verse 18, which says, “While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him.”  This ruler was a man named Jairus, we see that in Mark and Luke’s account of this story. 

Jairus is a man of no small reputation.  He was a ruler in the local synagogue.  The local synagogue was not just a place of worship, but it was a major community building.  Although it was primarily used as a place of worship and teaching, it was also a place to collect tithes, local administration, hospitality and a place where disputes could be settled.  It also was a place where a group of elders at the local synagogue could judge offenders and deal out punishment.

So Jairus was a very well respected man in the community.  He was relied upon, and looked up to by the people. And in the midst of his hopeless situation, he comes to Jesus Christ.

In verse 20 we see that there was another person that came to Jesus as well.  “And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him …” This woman is unnamed but is also very well known in her community, but for very different reasons.

This woman would have been known by many but it would have been because she was a social outcast.   She is not respected but degraded.  She is not looked up to, but looked down upon.  

In verse 20 it tells us that this woman suffered from a discharge of blood.  Most scholars agree that this is understood to be some sort of blood disorder that caused hemorrhaging in between her constant menstrual flows.  A never ending menstrual cycle would certainly be a constant lack of comfort to say the least, but that’s not the reason for her desperation.  

Her desperation was not so much caused by her pain, as much as it was caused by her isolation.  This blood disorder made her a social outcast because according to the Levitical law it made her perpetually unclean. 

Leviticus 15:25-31 states, “If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness…every bed on which she lies…and everything on which she sits shall be unclean…and whoever touches these things shall be unclean…” 

And if a person became unclean, according to the law they had to go and purchase turtledoves or pigeons and present them to the priest to have a sacrifice made.  It would cost them time and money.

So you can imagine that nobody wanted anything to do with this woman.  She was not allowed to go into the synagogue to worship.  She wasn’t able to work. No one came to visit; no one invited her over, because everything that she came into contact with became unclean.

If she was married, she most likely would have been divorced, and if she was never married, there was no prospect of that ever happening.  She was alone, and shunned from society for the last 12 years of her life.

Both of these people although vastly different both come to Jesus Christ. 

Jesus desires for all people to come to him.  He doesn’t care where you’re at in life.  He doesn’t care about your age or what you do for a living.  He doesn’t care if you have it all together or if your life is falling to pieces.  He just wants you to come. 

I don’t know your specific circumstances, but the Bible clearly shows us that hope for whatever your facing can only be found in him.  In hopeless situations we are so quick to turn and try everything else first. 

We are so quick to turn our attention to what Oprah has to say, or to read the latest best-seller because we are trying to find something to put some confidence in.  These individuals did the same thing before they came to Christ.  In Mark and Luke’s account of this story, he makes it clear that this woman went to every doctor she could find.  She spent everything that she had, and only got worse and worse. 

Surely Jairus had called the doctors to see if there was anything that they could do for their daughter.  The Bible is not condemning them for going to a doctor.  That’s what they should do, because Jesus may use a doctor to heal.  But don’t put your hope in the method that God may use, but in the power of God itself.  If you are putting your hope in the solution and things don’t work out, you are going to be disappointed. 

But when things don’t work out, if your hope is in Christ you can keep going because you’re confidence isn’t in the method, it’s in the power of God.   

Jesus doesn’t care who you are, or what your facing, his power is sufficient to see you through and hope is only found in coming to him.

He wants all people to come to him, but he wants them to come humbly & sincerely…

Notice the posture of these two individuals as they come to Christ. 

In verse 18 Jairus approaches Jesus and kneels at his feet. 

Notice that this ruler does not come to Jesus throwing his weight around.  He does not come brazenly demanding that Jesus heal his daughter because of his position in the community.  Jairus puts aside his own position.

We also need to realize that animosity towards Jesus and his ministry has started to build.  The debates about who Jesus really is have been going on in the synagogues.  Discussions about how best to deal with Jesus have started to occur.  Jairus has most likely taken part in those discussions, and now he is approaching Jesus not as a doctor for a cure. But as a Messiah who will heal.

I imagine that there were some in the crowd that couldn’t believe he was doing this.  He didn’t come at night so nobody would see him like Nicodemus.   He didn’t care what it might do to his reputation.  He didn’t care that he may lose his position in the synagogue and in the community. 

His desperation drove him to fall on his knees before the only person that could help him, because his hope and confidence were in Jesus healing his daughter.  He was confident in the power of God; and he came expressing his hope humbly and sincerely. 

The woman also, does not charge into the crowd complaining to Jesus about how she is a victim because of how people have treated her.  She doesn’t approach Jesus with loathing and self-pity about her circumstances?   It says in verse 20 that she comes up behind him and touches the fringe of his garment. 

She didn’t really want people to see.  She didn’t want to make a fuss.  She didn’t want to bring a lot of attention to herself.  She has been cowering in the shadows for the last 12 years of her life; looking at things from afar.  Not being able to participate. 

I can just see her walking through the streets, trying to stay off to the side, doing her best to avoid touching anything and anyone so that she could just get near to Jesus.  Trying to avoid anyone noticing her so that she wouldn’t have to listen to the insults.   And as she stops and waits for Jesus to walk by.  She squats down on the ground and as Jesus walks by she reaches out and lightly touches the fringe of his garment. 

Both of these people cared about one thing; seeing the power of Jesus Christ work in their lives. And they came to Jesus Christ with humility and sincerity.  To find hope in your hopeless situation, are you willing to humble yourself at the feet of Jesus?  Are you willing to express to him your confidence in his power as the only source to meet your needs?  In whatever situation you are in, have you told him?  Jesus, my hope is in you.  Not in the method that you are going to use, but in your power.  I know that it is sufficient for me. 

Jesus wants all of us to come to him humbly, and sincerely when we see our great need for him.

One writer wrote that, “Often some great tragedy drives a person to Christ.  The person who feels no needs in his life has no hunger for God.”  So at some point God is going to bring you to recognize your need for him.

On the registers that we fill out every week there is a box to check that says, “I recently committed my life to Christ.  And then next to that box in parentheses it says (When?)  As we were praying through the registers this week I came across one register that had the box checked “I recently committed my life to Christ.”  And in the parentheses that says, “When?”  This person wrote “During a Crisis.” 

It may be that you have lost your job; it may be that your child is a prodigal and nothing you say or do is getting through to them.  It may be that you are facing a divorce or financial ruin.  Do you see your great need for Jesus Christ?  Do you see that the power of God is the only thing that can get you through this?  Some of you may have received Christ as your Lord and Savior during times like these. 

It’s always a crisis that brings us to Christ.  It may or may not have been a physical crisis, but it is always a spiritual crisis that brings us to Christ.  If anyone is ever to humbly come to Jesus you have to recognize the spiritually hopeless situation that you are in.  If you have not come to Jesus Christ and received the forgiveness of sins that he offers, I don’t care how great things are on the outside, spiritually you are hopeless. 

You are separated from God and you are an enemy of God because of your sin.  But there is hope for our spiritual hopelessness. 

Our hope is found when we receive the forgiveness of Jesus Christ by believing in his death, burial and resurrection, and turn from your sin and ask for his forgiveness, the Bible says that he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

There is hope and confidence in the power of God that saves those that do receive him, who believe in his name, who he gives the right to be called children of God.  And as his children, we have confidence in the power of God which is sufficient for anything we will face.  

Do you see your great need for Jesus Christ?  Will you humbly and sincerely turn to Christ today?  Hope is found there. 

Hope is found in hopeless situations when we come to Jesus, and secondly when we believe in Jesus. 

In Verse 18, Jairus comes to Jesus and says, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live,”

Notice that Jairus doesn’t approach Christ and say, “My daughter has just died.  Could you come and see if there is anything that you can do?  He doesn’t approach Christ with skepticism or unbelief.  He has hope because he truly believes that the power of Jesus Christ is sufficient to help him at this great time of need. 

In verse 20, it says “that the woman came up behind Jesus and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said  to herself, ‘if I only touch his garment, I will be made well.’

Look at the belief that she has in the power of Jesus Christ.  “I only need to touch his garment, and I will be made well.”  There is no doubt in her mind that Jesus can heal her.  The fringe of his garment probably refers to the tassels that according to Numbers 15:37-38; Jewish men sewed on to the bottoms of their garments to show their devotion to God and to following his commandments.  In Matthew 23:5 Jesus actually condemns the Pharisees for making these tassels longer so that others would believe they were super spiritual.

We need to understand that this wasn’t some mystical belief that somehow Jesus’ clothing is what was healing her, because in verse 22, it says, “that Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.”  It wasn’t touching a tassel that healed her, it was the Power of Jesus Christ responding to the hope that she had because she believed. 

Hope is found in believing.  You have to believe that the power of Christ is sufficient for your situation.  You have to believe that God can change the heart of your child.  You have to believe that Christ can heal you.  You have to believe that Christ can save your marriage.  That he can provide a job, that he can meet your needs. 

Where is your belief?  All of us say we believe, but does your heart and life reflect that belief?  If you are consumed with self-pity, you don’t believe Christ is enough.  If you are constantly complaining about your situation you don’t believe the power of Jesus Christ is going to get you through.  Because if you truly believe, when the fear sets in and the worry comes it won’t overwhelm you, because your hope isn’t in the how things are going to work out.  Your hope is in who is going to work things out. 

Do you see the confidence they have in the power of Jesus Christ?  This is what many of us are missing. 

Some people come to Jesus believing while others come to Jesus with curiosity or skepticism

I wonder how many people that had diseases tried to touch Jesus’ garment but weren’t healed because they just wanted to see if “it would work.”  I can imagine people touching his garment as he walked by, saying, “I knew it, I told you it wouldn’t work.”   Some people don’t experience the power of God working in their lives because they don’t believe it really will.

Believing in the power of God means that you are letting go of your timetables.  It means letting go of your plans and it means being confident that God has your best interest in mind and that whatever God wants to accomplish will be a thousand times better than anything you or I could have ever come up with. 

Many times, people just want to try Jesus out.  They want to see if it’s for real.  They base the success of their Jesus experience on whether things turn out how and like they think they should. 

For example, a person’s marriage is falling apart, and their desperate to try anything to keep it together.  So they say, well let’s try the Jesus thing.  So they come to church and get some counseling, but a month goes by and things aren’t working out on their timetable and they are asked to do some hard things that didn’t fit into their plans.  They just wanted a quick fix so the pain would go away, and when “the Jesus thing” isn’t working like they think it should, they are like I am out of here, and they get mad at God for not doing something that they never believed he would do anyway. 

Jairus and this woman believed strongly in the power of Jesus Christ.  It says in Mark’s account that this woman “had heard the reports about Jesus.”  She had never even seen him do miracles before, but she believed so firmly in his power and in who he was.   

She knew so little about Jesus and yet believed so strongly, and we know so much about Jesus, and yet we believe so little. 

Our belief should be so great as to know that only a touch from Christ would be enough to transform our lives.  Do you believe?  Sadly enough there will always be,

Some people who will never believe in Jesus and we see that here in this passage as well.

Look at verse 19, After Jairus comes, it says that “ Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples.”  Then jump down to verse23, “And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, ‘Go away,’ for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him.

There will always be those that refuse to believe in the power of Jesus Christ. 

We see flute players here because in their culture it was customary that when a person died the family would hire professional mourners.  In the Jewish tradition it was customary that even the poorest person should hire at least two flute players and at least one wailing woman.  So for this ruler who was very well known, there would have been a great crowd of people their wailing and moaning because of the death of his daughter.

But when Jesus arrives, everyone knows why he is there.  They too have heard the reports about his healings, but they don’t believe Jesus can do what he has come to do, and when Jesus tells them to leave because the girl “is not dead” but sleeping, they respond by laughing at him. 

Their laughter reveals not only the nature of their heart, but the greatness of the miracle that is to be performed.  They know that she is dead, and they are laughing at the ludicrousness of Jesus claiming that this girl was not dead, they are laughing at the absurdity that Jesus could do anything to change that.  And  Jesus’ responds by saying the girl is not dead, but sleeping because her death though very real is not permanent.  

Our world today laughs at the absurdity that we are dead in our sins.  The world laughs at the foolishness that somehow Jesus’ death on a cross provides atonement for our sins. The world laughs when in the midst of hopelessness someone turns their attention towards Jesus and says he is the only one that can give me hope.   

Do you want hope?  Do you want confidence in God?  You will find hope in hopeless situations when you truly believe in the power of Jesus Christ. 

Lastly, Hope is found in hopeless situations when you REST in Christ. 

I want to give you two ways to rest in Christ.  The first is: In hopeless situations rest in God’s timing? 

After Jairus approaches Jesus the only thing left for him to do is wait on Jesus.  I can imagine how difficult that must have been.  That when this woman kind of interrupts their traveling it would have been real easy for Jairus to say, hey, we don’t have time for that we need to hurry.  We don’t have time to stop and talk.  Make the crowds go away, they are slowing us down. 

This woman suffered with this blood disorder for 12 years of her life.  She certainly could have been asking Jesus, “Why did you make me wait so long for healing?”  “Why did I have to endure such trials?” 

When in hopeless situations, do you understand that God puts his children in a position to grow their faith?  It took 12 years for her to get to the point where she had complete confidence in the power of God for healing.    And sometimes in our situations God allows our situation to continue until ultimately we may arrive at a point of desperate need, but we arrive there with great faith. 

God gives us the gift of tragedy to grow our faith in him, and he prolongs our trials many times to draw us closer to him.  Rest in Christ.  Rest in his timing, and, 

 In hopeless situations Rest in his gentleness.

When the woman approaches Jesus and touches the fringe of his garment in Luke 8:45, “Jesus said, ‘Who was it that touched me?”  When all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you! But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” 

What a great statement about the deity of Christ.  Power would never exist in just a man, or a good teacher, but only in God.  And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed.

Oh, how I wish I had time to talk about declaring publicly all that Jesus has done in our life.  But notice verse 48, Jesus says to her, “Daughter”.  This term of endearment, this recognition that says, you are not an outcast.  You are not alone.  You are not degraded and forsaken; you are a daughter to me.  “Your faith has made you well; go in peace.” 

The isolation is over.  The pain is gone.  The torment of others has ended.

Listen, Jesus Christ is going to bring about peace in your life.  It may not be the way that you think or when you think it should happen, but you are his son.  You are his daughter.  He loves you and he cares about you.  It may take 12 years.  It may take 30 years, and it may even end in death. 

But if your hope is found in Jesus Christ, you can rest in the power of God which is sufficient for every situation.  And even in death we can rest in our confidence that Jesus is waiting to embrace us and give us peace for all of eternity. 

Are you resting in Christ?  Are you resting in his timing and in his gentleness?   Maybe you aren’t sure. 

Ask yourself this question.  When I am facing a hopeless situation, do I go to sleep concerned but confident that God is going to work out my situation?  Do I wake up in the morning concerned but confident that God is in complete control of what’s going to happen today, and I believe that he is going to work everything out by his plan, in his timing, for his glory. 

If your answer is no, then first I would say, have you come to Christ?  If you haven’t what are you waiting for?  Come to him today.  If your answer is yes, I have accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior and he has forgiven me of my sins but I can’t seem to trust him.  Then I would say get closer to God.  Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”  Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.

James says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. 

Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may about in hope. Let’s Pray. 

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